Tense Kenya awaits election amid violence
NAIROBI — Kenya nervously awaited on Thursday the final results of its presidential election, with the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta holding a strong lead after a vote marred by opposition claims of rigging and the death of four people.
Tensions are high in the east African nation where, a decade ago, post-poll bloodshed left 1,100 people dead.
“We find ourselves at a crossroads once again,” the Daily Nation newspaper warned grimly on Thursday.
“The nation is sitting precariously on the precipice. The dispute over poll results is creating needless anxiety.”
A longtime government adversary making what is likely his last bid for office, Raila Odinga is badly trailing Kenyatta, according to a provisional count of Tuesday’s ballot, released by the electoral commission, or IEBC.
Odinga carried 44.8 per- cent of the vote to Kenyatta’s 54.3 percent with 97 percent of polling stations reporting.
But Odinga charged that hackers broke into the electoral commission’s systems and rigged the count — an allegation that fueled uncertainty in what was already a tight race.
The claim was denied by IEBC chief executive Ezra Chiloba, who said on Wednesday that the crucial electronic voting system — seen as key to avoiding fraud — had not been compromised.
It remained unclear whether final results would be officially published on Thursday.
On Wednesday, isolated groups of protesters chanting “No Raila, no peace” took to the streets in the western city of Kisumu and the slums of the capital Nairobi.
Clashes with protesters left two people dead in Nairobi. The capital’s police chief said officers opened fire after they were attacked by men wielding machetes.
In the southeastern Tana River region, police killed two people after a group of five stormed a vote-tallying center and stabbed one person.
The head of the European Union’s election observer mission in Kenya said on Thursday it had seen no signs of “centralized or localized manipulation” of the voting process.