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Kenya awaits tense presidential poll results
 
NAIROBI, March 05, 2013 (BSS/AFP) - Kenyans nervously eyed
results Monday trickling in a day after they turned out
peacefully en masse for critical presidential elections, the
first since disputed polls five years ago triggered a wave of
bloodletting.

Throughout the night results slowly filtered in from the
polls -- seen as key to the regional powerhouse's stability --
with almost a third of polling stations posting results by mid-
morning Tuesday.

The two front runners are Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who
says he was robbed of victory in 2007, and Uhuru Kenyatta, who
faces crimes against humanity charges over the violence that
killed more than 1,100 people and forced over 600,000 to flee
their homes.

Voters standing for hours in snaking lines several hundred
metres (yards) long -- and several people thick -- crowded
peacefully outside polling stations to take part in one of the
most complex elections Kenya has ever held.

Hours before polling stations opened, bloody clashes erupted
on the Indian Ocean coast in which six policemen and six
attackers were killed, as well as several bombs that wounded one
person in Mandera, a northeastern town on the border with war-
torn Somalia.

Kenyan police chief David Kimaiyo blamed the coastal attacks
on suspected members of the secessionist Mombasa Republican
Council (MRC), and said that 400 officers were being sent to beef
up security in the popular tourist region.

But few other incidents were reported during polls.

More than 12 hours after most polls closed, results from 32%
of the 31,981 polling stations -- with over 4 million ballots
counted from the 14.3 million registered voters -- had been sent
to the central tallying centre in the capital Nairobi.

Of those counted at 9:45 am (0645 GMT), Kenyatta had taken
2,068,696 votes, or 54% of valid votes cast, with Odinga having
won 1,562,288, or 41 %.

None of the other five candidates had taken more than one
percent, while more than 237,000 rejected votes made up a
staggering 5% of votes cast.



Ahmed Issack Hassan, the head of the Independent Boundaries
and Electoral Commission (IEBC), said late Monday that turnout
was likely to be over 70%.

Analysts said that would suggest around 10 million people had
cast a ballot, and that the partial results released could not be
used to suggest a winner.

-- Patience urged as Kenyans wait --

As voters waited, many bleary eyed from having stayed up all
night after watching the slow counting of votes, parties and
newspapers urged calm.

"Let us be patient with IEBC as they release the results,"
Kenyatta's The National Alliance party said in message on
Twitter. "We urge all Kenyans, and especially political leaders,
to be patient as results are released."

"This election is a turning point, and its outcome will
determine whether the country will proceed as a civilised state,"
Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper said in its Tuesday editorial.

"The most important message is that we must all be ready to
accept the election results."

Contested results in the 2007 poll which President Mwai
Kibaki won against Odinga sparked a wave of protests, notably
because of the lack of transparency in the way the tallying was
done at that time.

New procedures brought in by the IEBC mean that results are
broadcast publically immediately after they are sent in by
polling stations.

"As soon as data hits our screens it will be made available
to the media in real time," James Oswago, IEBC executive
director, told journalists before the numbers started coming in.

Neck-and-neck rivals for the presidency, Odinga and his
deputy Kenyatta have publicly vowed there will be no repeat of
the bloodshed that followed the 2007 polls.

Crimes against humanity trials later this year at The Hague-
based International Criminal Court (ICC) for Kenyatta and running
mate William Ruto have raised the stakes: should they win the
vote, the president and vice-president could be absent on trial
for years.

Both front-runners have said they are confident of winning
the absolute majority needed to avoid a second round runoff vote.

"We can win these elections in the first round..." Odinga
said after voting in Nairobi's Kibera shanty town, the scene of
some of the worst ethnic clashes after the 2007 poll.

Kenyatta, voting in his hometown of Gatundu some 90
kilometres (55 miles) north of Nairobi, said he was "ready and
prepared for whatever outcome" Kenyans chose.

Kenyans cast six ballots, voting for a new president,
parliamentarians, governors, senators, councillors and special
women's representatives.

The 2007-2008 violence exposed deep tribal divisions and
widespread disenchantment with the political class and shattered
Kenya's image as a beacon of regional stability.

More checks are in place this time to limit vote rigging,
while a new constitution devolving powers has made the poll less
of a winner- take-all race.
 
 
 
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