Uhuru, Raila take early lead

Nairobi(ANN) Results trickling in overnight show the race to State House is headed for a dramatic finish between Mr Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee alliance and Mr Raila Odinga of CORD.

This follows a day of voting that saw a turnout of “over 70 per cent”, with millions braving long queues, minor hitches, unseasonal heat and security threats to cast their votes.

As at 6.00am on Tuesday, Raila and Uhuru seemed on course to upset poll predictions, controlling 96 per cent of the 2.88 million valid votes counted.  If the trend holds through the day, and if the winner meets constitutional thresholds, then Kenya will likely have a President Elect in a matter of days. To win in this round of balloting, a presidential candidate needs more than 50 per cent of the total valid votes cast and at least 25 per cent in at least half of the country’s 47 counties.

With 25.80% per cent of polling stations reporting, Uhuru had 1, 577, 085 votes (about 54.87per cent), Raila 1, 165, 192  (40.54 per cent) and Amani’s Musalia Mudavadi 83, 560 (2.91 per cent). None of the five other candidates in the presidential race had risen past the one per cent mark.

More than 171, 688 votes had been set aside as spoilt. The high number could be attributed to confusion over the record six positions voters were filling. The presidential ballot paper alone had eight candidates, all of them named alongside their running mates.

These results were from 8, 248 polling stations that completed counting early, mostly in areas with low populations.

About 23, 000 stations are yet to submit results. Fresh results could, therefore, see the vote swing between the leading candidates. There may also be a rise in the number of votes cast for the other six, pushing the contest to a second round showdown on April 11.

Counting was delayed in major towns when voting was extended because there were still long queues when the 5pm deadline lapsed. By 9pm last night, some centres in Nairobi, Mombasa and North Eastern still had voters queuing to cast their ballots. This followed extensions to make up for delays caused by voter identification challenges and security fears.

The election was affected by failure of handheld devices used in electronic voter identification. This led to delays in the opening of polling stations in parts of the country. IEBC approved the use of voter register printouts but voters complained these had missing names.

“We have used poll books, a hand-held electronic device, to access the register but in some cases where there was memory failure we used BVR kits or the manual register,” said an IEBC official at the national tallying centre at the Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi.

Regional voting patterns predicted by opinion pollsters appeared to be reinforced in the early results: While counties at the Coast and in Eastern Kenya appeared headed to Raila’s CORD, North-Eastern, Central Kenya and Rift Valley were leaning towards Kenyatta. Buoyed by support for Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, Raila had a strong showing in most counties in Eastern, which was believed to be leaning towards Uhuru thanks to the backing of National Rainbow Coalition leader, Mrs Charity Ngilu. In western Kenya, a contest was shaping up between Mudavadi and Raila, with the latter having an upper hand in Bungoma and Busia.

As at midnight, Nairobi County, which recorded one of the highest voter turnouts in the country, had emerged as a toss-up county between the two. Raila was leading with 48 per cent against Uhuru’s 47 per cent of the vote. The two leading candidates held onto their strongholds, with Kenyatta posting 88 per cent in Embu County, while in Meru county, considered an extension of his Mt Kenya bloc, he was cruising at 81 per cent to Raila’s 18 per cent. In Nyeri, President Kibaki’s backyard, Uhuru enjoyed 97 per cent.

The provisional results showed Raila was ahead in Bungoma with just over 40 per cent, followed by Mudavadi at 27 per cent and Uhuru at 23 per cent. Early results from Mandera and Garissa showed Uhuru leading with over 60 per cent, while Raila had a grip on Tana River (92 per cent), Kilifi (91 per cent), Taita Taveta (85 per cent) and Kitui (85 per cent). In Wajir County, KSC candidate Peter Kenneth was ahead with more than 57 per cent. The rest of the candidates, Martha Karua of Narc Kenya, Prof James ole Kiyiapi of Restore and Build Kenya and Dida Abduba of Alliance for Real Change, trailed the top three candidates with less than one per cent (each) of the provisional votes.

Police reported at least four separate attacks on voting and tallying centres in Kilifi South, Kilifi North, Kaloleni and Garissa. The most violent of these claimed the lives of nine police officers and a Kenya Wildlife Service Warden in Kilifi. Among them was a divisional police boss and another commanding a station. Both were based at Changamwe Police Station. Inspector General David Kimaiyo dispatched 400 police officers to Mombasa after the attack by suspected members of the secessionist Mombasa Republican Council. MRC officials have denied responsibility. Police tracked down and killed some militia members in Kilifi South. Others were arrested and revealed where they had hidden the bodies of their colleagues. The insecurity in the North Coast forced IEBC to close some stations early. Despite the killings, voters in the region turned out in large numbers.
In Shinyalu, Kakamega County, ugly scenes were witnessed when a car belonging to outgoing MP Justus Kizito was burned by a mob suspected to be supporters of a rival candidate.

Other unfortunate incidents included the deaths of two people who collapsed as they waited in long queues in the scorching sun to vote. The two were a 72-year-old man in Kiharu, Murang’a, and a 33-year-old man in Hardy, Langata constituency.

Stampedes were also witnessed at some polling stations before police officers moved in to restore order among impatient voters. There was confusion among voters who expected to find their names listed in alphabetical order of their surnames, as was the practice in the past, only to learn that the names had been listed using the first names. There was anxiety and fatigue among voters in long queues that spilled out of polling stations onto roads and nearby estates and premises. Similar scenes were replicated around the country where voters were still waiting to vote after the 5pm deadline last evening. IEBC allowed all those who were on the queue at the expiry of the set deadline to carry on with the exercise, and therefore polling in some polling stations dragged on into the night.

Voters also complained that some IEBC staff were assisting some people to jump the queues. IEBC Chief Executive Officer James Oswago acknowledged the challenges voters experienced.

“The voting process picked momentum across the country with a huge turnout being experienced but we have also received reports that there are some challenges in many places,” said Oswago.

Speaking at the Bomas of Kenya, Oswago expressed regret that most polling stations opened after 6am and some did so after 10am, four hours behind schedule. In many polling stations across the country, lack of electricity emerged as a major challenge after poll books and electronic voter register ran out of power


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