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Kenya presidential election on a knife-edge as counting nears end

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Kenya presidential election on a knife-edge as counting nears end


Counting in Kenya’s presidential election looks set to go down to the wire, with the prospect of a run-off in April becoming a distinct possibility.

Four days after Monday’s ballot, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta has taken just under half the votes counted, five points ahead of his main rival, the Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

A series of technical problems has embarrassed Kenya’s electoral commission.

“We, as the electorate, we did our part and turned out in large numbers and voted. So I think it is only fair they do their part and give us the results in good time,” said Nairobi resident Emmanuel Oluoch.

The electronic system was abandoned in favour of a paper count following a programming error. Both main camps have raised concerns but have promised to use legal channels for any challenge. Odinga’s team have called for counting to be stopped, claiming some results have been “doctored”.

International observers including the European Union’s ambassador to Kenya, Lodewijk Briet, have said the process has been sound and transparent so far and should continue.

The US, the UK and other Western nations have indicated that a victory by Kenyatta would complicate diplomatic relations. The 51-year-old son of Kenya’s founding president Jomo Kenyatta, is due to go on trial at The Hague accused of crimes against humanity. He and his running mate William Ruto are charged with unleashing death squads after the 2007 election.

Although there has been no repeat of the mass bloodshed in the aftermath of the vote six years ago there has been violence this time.

People being treated for wounds in a Mombasa hospital say they were attacked by a mob demanding independence for Kenya’s coastal region.

Clashes between separatists and police earlier this week left several people dead.

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