Tense Kenya awaits elec­tion amid vi­o­lence

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

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.

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