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Remain calm, Kenyans urged after vote

05 March 2013, 12:17

Nairobi – Political parties and newspapers in Kenya have urged calm as Kenyans nervously eye results trickling in a day after they voted in general elections.

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 on 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.

"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.






Ready and prepared

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 90km 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.

- AFP

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