Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruta led a tight presidential race against opposition leader Raila Odinga, official results announced to the media on Monday, as the electoral body’s announcement of a winner appeared imminent.
The electoral commission’s slow progress in counting votes on Tuesday raised alarm in east Africa’s richest country, which has a recent history of violence following disputed elections.
Riot police were deployed at the national counting center at the weekend following a fight between members of rival parties over vetting procedures.
When media reported on Monday that more than three-quarters of the votes had been counted, only two tables at the vote counting center, which has been bustling since the start of the verification process, were occupied by election commission officials and party agents from more than 12 earlier.
This suggests that the count may be coming to an end.
The commission did not say when the winner would be announced, but the law requires the results to be announced within seven days of the presidential election.
The winning candidate must receive 50% of the vote plus one.
Two-term President Uhuru Kenyatta fell out with Ruto after the last election and backed Odinga for the presidency this time around.
In its latest announcement on Saturday of officially certified results with just over a quarter of the votes counted, the commission put Odinga in the lead with 54% and Ruto with 45%.
Checks and balances
But in official verified results reported by the independent and private Nation Media Group, with 253 constituencies out of a total of 291, Ruta won 51% of the vote to Odinga’s 48%.
The Standard Group – also independent and private – reported Ruto ahead, again with 51% of the vote to Odinga’s 48%, with 253 constituencies counted.
A Reuters tally of 266 out of 291 preliminary results at constituency level as of 0900 GMT on Monday showed Ruto with 52% to Odinga’s 48%. The two minor candidates shared less than a percent.
Reuters did not count 20 forms because they were missing signatures, the results were illegible or there were other problems.
The preliminary count is based on the forms, which are subject to revision if any discrepancies are found during the official verification process.
A host of checks and balances are designed to try to prevent allegations of fraud that sparked violence after the 2007 vote, in which more than 1,200 people were killed.
In 2017, after the Supreme Court overturned the result due to irregularities in the electoral process, more than 100 were killed.
Crispinus Kokonya from Eldoret, the region where Ruto has the largest support base, said the outcome was still unclear.
“So we are now waiting for Chebukati … whatever he says, we will follow,” he said, referring to Electoral Commission chairman Wafulu Chebukati.
Others said the wait was bad for business.
“We are losing money – it is causing a lot of anxiety and anger,” said Alphonse Otieno Odhiambo, a farmer and motorcycle taxi driver in Kisumu, Odinga’s stronghold.