KENYA GRIPPED BY TEN­SION AS KENY­ATTA LEADS IN POLLS

Sunday Observer - - NEWS - AIROBI - News24

NKenya was stuck in a dan­ger­ous limbo yes­ter­day as Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta took an unas­sail­able lead in a dis­puted poll that has sparked vi­o­lent protests in which nine have died.

Keny­atta was lead­ing with 97 per cent of votes com­pared to less than one per cent for his ri­val Raila Odinga, who boy­cotted the re­peat elec­tion, ac­cord­ing to a tally by the Daily Na­tion me­dia group of un­of­fi­cial re­sults from 80 per cent of con­stituen­cies.

How­ever turnout ap­pears headed for a record low of around 35 per cent, tar­nish­ing the cred­i­bil­ity of an elec­tion that has deeply po­larised east Africa's eco­nomic pow­er­house.

Vi­o­lent protests have rocked Odinga's strongholds in the west of the coun­try and flash­point Nairobi slums, with the death of man in Homa Bay late Fri­day tak­ing the toll since elect i on day to nine dead.

Scores have also been wounded, many by po­lice bul­lets.

Lo­cal po­lice chief Mau­ris Tum said a gang of youths had stormed the home of a lo­cal rul­ing party law­maker and po­lice re­sponded, leav­ing one "fa­tally wounded". One man was also shot dead by po­lice in Nairobi's Kawang­ware slum on Fri­day night as clashes broke out be­tween eth­nic groups over the elec­tion, po­lice said.

A wit­ness told AFP the vi­o­lence started when a group of youths "started at­tack­ing peo­ple and ques­tion­ing why peo­ple never voted". Else­where op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers torched shops be­long­ing to mem­bers of Keny­atta's Kikuyu tribe and a group of young men wield­ing ma­chetes could also be seen roam­ing the streets. At least 49 peo­ple have now died since a first elec­tion on Au­gust 8 in Kenya's worst cri­sis since a 2007 v ot e sparked po­lit­i­cally-driven eth­nic vi­o­lence that left 1 100 dead . At a main round­about in the city, some­one had hung up a dead cat. In re­cent days, ahead of each an­nounce­ment, Odinga prom­ises to an­nounce his next moves on how to "slay the cat".

Richard Ogilo, 24, pointed to the car­cass and said: "Look there is a mem­ber of IEBC (elec­tion board) at this round­about. This is Wa­fula Che­bukati. Let him know that we do not want elec­tions."

While the Supreme Court rul­ing was hailed as a chance to deepen democ­racy, the ac­ri­mo­nious bick­er­ing be­tween Odinga and Keny­atta -- whose fa­thers were ri­vals be­fore them -- has sharply di­vided a coun­try where pol­i­tics is al­ready po­larised along tribal lines.

"Lead­ers must now be­gin preach­ing the mes­sage of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and co-ex­is­tence. Elec­tions have deeply di­vided the peo­ple and we need to re­pair the frac­tures," said the Daily Na­tion editorial.

Odinga has vowed a cam­paign of "civil dis­obe­di­ence" and is de­mand­ing another new elec­tion be held within 90 days.

Lead­ing Uhuru Keny­atta.

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