Kenyans await elections results

BY: West Pokot
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Counting has begun in Kenya's general election after a day of long queues and little trouble. Some polling stations remained open after the 17:00 (14:00 GMT) deadline yesterday in areas where heavy rain and other problems had hampered voting.

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Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta is hoping for a second time in office, but faces a tough challenge from his long-time rival Raila Odinga.

Many fear a repeat of the violence that followed the disputed 2007 election.

More than 1,100 Kenyans died and 600,000 were displaced.


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Results started coming in and gave a slight lead to Mr Kenyatta, but a BBC correspondent in Nairobi said it was too early to tell which way Kenyans have voted.

To win outright, a candidate needs more than 50 per cent of the vote, and at least 25 per cent in 24 of Kenya's 47 counties. If that threshold is not met, a run-off vote between the top two candidates will be triggered.

Voting for the national and local assemblies also took place.

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People queued early yesterday to ensure they could cast their vote. Long queues could be seen, and video footage at one polling station showed people injured on the ground after an apparent stampede.

There was also the failure of some voter-identification equipment and one in four polling stations were apparently without mobile phone coverage meaning that officials would have to drive to the nearest town to send results.

There were reports that one man had been killed in clashes in Kilifi area.

There was one heartening moment when a woman gave birth to a baby girl as she queued in West Pokot to cast her ballot. New mother Pauline Chemanang called the circumstances of the birth a "blessing" and called her baby Kura, Swahili for "ballot", according to local radio.

Casting his vote in his hometown of Gatundu, north of Nairobi, Mr Kenyatta said he would accept the outcome of the election.

"To my competitors, as I have always said, in the event that they lose, let us accept the will of the people. I am willing, myself, to accept the will of the people," he said.

Opposition leader Mr Odinga cast his ballot in the Nairobi slum of Kibera.

Speaking outside the voting centre, he told his supporters: "Let's turn out in large numbers and vote."

So far the elections were said to have gone well, but the queues were long and the voters impatient.

Many arrived in the middle of the night to cast their ballots early and the electronic system took quite a while to verify voters.

When fingerprints didn’t register, ID card numbers were typed in to the electronic tablets and then manual backups were generated.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission had the responsibility to deliver a free and fair election.

The test will come when the polls close, the votes are counted and the results have to be transmitted to the tallying centres.

Mr Odinga, 72, has run for president three times and lost each time. President Kenyatta, the 55-year-old son of Kenya's founding president, beat him in the last election in 2013, but their rivalry is generations old - their fathers were political opponents in the 1960s.

Mr Kenyatta and his running-mate William Ruto were indicted by the International Criminal Court for their alleged roles in the bloodshed a decade ago. The case ultimately collapsed due to lack of evidence, and after key witnesses died or disappeared.