Tuesday 26 September 2017

Kenyan who denies role in mass violence set for poll win

Mike Pflanz Nairobi

Uhuru Kenyatta, the Kenyan presidential candidate indicted for crimes against humanity, was heading for victory after he opened up a double-digit lead over his main rival.

Mr Kenyatta, pictured, was ahead with 53pc to Raila Odinga's 42pc with ballots from Monday's election counted in about half of the country's 33,000 polling stations.

The men were neck and neck with about 44pc in opinion polls before the vote, seen as a crucial test of whether Kenya could hold credible elections.

International Criminal Court prosecutors accuse Mr Kenyatta of crimes against humanity for his role in orchestrating violence after Kenya's last polls, in 2007. He denies the charges, but if he wins, protocol dictates that Kenya's Western allies have nothing but "essential contact" with him.

Kalonzo Musyoka, Mr Odinga's running mate and Kenya's vice-president, said that his side would catch up and overtake Mr Kenyatta as more polling stations returned their count.

"The results have been challenging to us, but we hope that will be rectified in the next two to three hours to more realistic results," he said. "We are beginning to see that these things are going to change rather dramatically. We must prepare the country for that."

In Kibera, Nairobi's largest slum, those words were interpreted as a warning to Mr Kenyatta's supporters not to react if he slips into second place.

"It is boiling here," John Oyoo, a community activist and election monitor, said. Kibera is heavily pro-Odinga, and saw some of the worst violence in 2007.

"Everyone is wondering why the results are so slow for Odinga's strongholds. They think something fishy is going on. If suddenly all of our results come in and we take the top spot, Uhuru's supporters will not accept that."

The sudden shift of the vote tally during the 2007 count, to Mr Odinga's then rival, Mwai Kibaki, provoked suspicions of a rigged ballot that spilled into weeks of clashes when Mr Kibaki was eventually sworn in.

Shattered

More than 1,100 people died, 630,000 people were violently evicted from their homes and Kenya's reputation as an emerging and peaceful African democracy was shattered.

Should Mr Odinga not manage to take the lead, he will face pressure to concede defeat quickly or announce how he will pursue his concerns in court.

There have been increasing reports of voting irregularities. Technical glitches on election day and further problems with electronic tallying prompted calls from party agents for urgent investigations.

To win outright, a candidate needs 50pc of the votes cast plus one, and a quarter of votes in half the country's 47 counties. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

Editors Choice

Also in World News