Kenya count delay sparks violence
Announcement of election results postponed after opposition leader took early lead.
|Youths have taken to the streets, suspecting rigging by the government [Reuters]
Protests and looting have erupted in Kenya after the country said there would be a delay in announcing results for the hotly contested presidential election.
Supporters of Raila Odinga, the opposition leader who had taken an early lead in the poll, lit bonfires and stoned passing cars on Saturday in Nairobi’s Kibera slum after accusing Mwai Kibaki, the incumbent president, of vote rigging.
Meanwhile, in western Kisumu in Odinga’s homeland, hundreds of angry youths took to the streets, lighting fires, ransacking shops and blocking roads.
John Oloo, one of the demonstrator in Kisumu, said: “We are wondering why they are not announcing the winner yet … we know him.
“They are planning to rig the elections.”
Local residents said at least one person was killed in the violence.
Odinga, a millionaire who has styled himself as a helper of the poor, led the polls on Friday, with final results expected on Saturday.
The Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) released results from 116 of the 210 constituencies showing Odinga leading by 2,620,547 votes to Kibaki’s 2,362,696.
Both Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) and Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) have asked authorities to explain the delay.
Joseph Nyaga, an ODM official, said: “This is not Nigeria. My request is that they release these results [and] don’t hold them back.”
“You raise suspicions to a level that they may not contain.”
However, the ECK has denied any wrongdoing, saying the hold-ups were due to the high turnout, which it said was likely to be the highest in Kenya’s history, and minor logistical problems.
Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow, reporting from Nairobi, said that claims of victory by Odinga are premature.
He said: “There are many constituencies that have not had their results bought to the tolling stations.
“Samuel Kivuitu, the chairman of the ECK, says he is shocked by the delay of the results and is surprised at why the results have not been recieved because many of these constituencies are in areas where communication is good.
“He warned that he may be forced to announce the results as they are – with Kibaki on 3.4 million, and Odinga on 3.7 million votes – if the delay continues.”
Kibaki has been credited with improving Kenya’s economy. However, his attempt to rid its political system of rampant corruption has largely failed and Kenya still struggles with poverty and ethnic violence.
Odinga, a 62-year-old former political prisoner, has promised change and help for the poor.
If he wins he would become the first candidate to oust a president in Kenya, which has had only three leaders in four decades of independence.
Kenya, east Africa’s largest economy, has more than 14 million registered voters.
A record turnout had been expected for the vote, although the exact percentage is not yet known.