Early signs show tight presidential election in Kenya

Early signs show tight presidential election in Kenya
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NAIROBI/ELDORET Aug 10 (Reuters) – Preliminary results from Kenya’s presidential election showed a tight race between the two main candidates vying to replace President Uhuru Kenyatta, with citizens praying the announcement of a winner would not spark violence. as in previous years.

Tuesday’s election is a major test of stability in East Africa’s biggest economy, where two of the last three elections have sparked bloodshed and disputes over accusations of manipulation.

Tuesday’s election was largely peaceful, though police said they were in pursuit of a lawmaker who shot dead a rival’s aide outside a polling station. In the northern city of Eldas, where clashes prevented elections on Tuesday, polling stations opened peacefully on Wednesday, election officials said.

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The main presidential candidates, Vice President William Ruto and veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga, are in a close race, results tabulated by Kenyan media showed. The winning candidate must obtain 50% plus one vote.

Outgoing President Kenyatta, who has reached his two-term limit, fell out with Ruto after his re-election in 2017 and backed Odinga.

“We are just praying for peace and a good leader,” vegetable vendor Crispin Wasonga said in the capital.

More than 1,200 people died after a disputed 2007 survey and more than 100 after the 2017 survey.


The electoral commission, the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC), released images showing results forms from more than 99 percent of the 46,663 polling stations.

The commission only publishes images, not numbers. Only seven of the 290 constituency-level results are available on the commission’s website. Constituency results forms must be counted on site and then physically brought to the national counting center in the capital, Nairobi, and verified before the commission issues official results.

The cumbersome counting process is in part the result of a 2017 Supreme Court ruling that overturned Kenyatta’s initial re-election in August of that year, citing the commission’s failure to follow the process to the letter.

It has created a confusing counting process as the media puts out conflicting numbers.

At 1800 GMT, privately owned Citizen Television showed Odinga in the lead with 51.3 percent of the vote and Ruto with 47.3 percent. In contrast, the privately owned group Nation had Ruto in the lead with 50.7 percent to Odinga’s 48.6 percent.

None had counted more than half of the votes cast and it was unclear if they were counting the same part of the votes as the result forms were loaded randomly. Academics who followed the media account said they had found some errors and warned that their results were unofficial.

At a counting center for electoral districts at the town hall in the western city of Eldoret, green-clad officials walked between rows of neatly stacked ballot boxes. Country music blared through the sound system, but stopped as election officials announced the newly received results from each station through a microphone.

In the center of town, crowds of men lined the sidewalks, enthusiastically discussing politics.

“We are happy because William Ruto will be our next president!” one exclaimed.

Meanwhile, in Kisumu, Odinga’s heart, the vuvuzelas and the whistles had died down as citizens awaited the results.


The final result of the IEBC is expected in days, although legally it has up to a week.

Turnout was low in Kenya on Tuesday, when voters also chose legislative and local authority representatives.

The commission said 65 percent of the 22.1 million registered voters cast their ballots. Turnout was nearly 80% in the last election in 2017.

Millions of Kenyans also chose not to register to vote; the commission hoped to underwrite 6 million, but got less than half of that.

Several factors were blamed for the disappointing turnout, including drought in the north, which has forced more than 4 million Kenyans to rely on food aid, and voter frustration at the government’s failure to address economic problems such as rising food and fuel prices.

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Reporting from Duncan Miriri and Katharine Houreld in Nairobi, Ayenat Mersie in Eldoret, and Daud Yussuf in Garissa; Edited by Katharine Houreld, Robert Birsel, Peter Graff, and Aurora Ellis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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