Kenya awaits election results

Kenyan authorities hope to deliver the final outcome of the presidential vote on Wednesday.

Kenyan voters chant while queuing for the presidential elections at the Kisumu Social Centre, one of the largest polling stations in Kisumu town in western Kenya March 4, 2013. Picture: AFP/ TILL MUELLENMEISTER

NAIROBI - Kenyan authorities hope to deliver the final outcome of a presidential vote on Wednesday, after partial results showed a lead for a politician wanted in the Hague over tribal violence at the last election five years ago.

Counting since Monday's vote has been slow, and a new electronic voter system has been plagued by hitches, leading to complaints by political parties and anxiety among voters fearful that a flawed process could lead to another violent dispute.

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, 51, has kept an early lead since results started trickling in after polls closed on Monday, but some strongholds for his rival Prime Minister Raila Odinga, 68, have yet to declare their results.

After problems with the electronic system, the electoral commission said it would rely instead on results being delivered manually to a national tallying centre overnight. It said it hoped to declare the winner on Wednesday and urged Kenyans to remain calm.

Results released on Tuesday with half of ballots counted showed Kenyatta, son of Kenya's independence leader and one of Africa's richest men, leading with 53 percent, against 42 percent for veteran politician Odinga.

Kenyatta and his deputy presidential running mate are both wanted in the Hague on charges of unleashing death squads after the last vote in 2007, which both men deny.

The last election saw some 1,200 people killed in ethnic violence after outgoing president Mwai Kibaki was declared the victor over Odinga. This time, Monday's vote saw at least 15 people killed in pockets of violence but no repeat so far of unrest on such a large scale.

If neither major candidate wins 50 percent of the vote, Kenyatta and Odinga would have to face each other in a second round run-off, pencilled in for next month if necessary.

"We can confirm that our returning officers are expected to bring the physical results at any time now, which will lead to the final results. What matters here is the final result and they are coming in," Ahmed Issack Hassan, chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries commission, told a news conference on Tuesday evening.

Hassan repeated that despite the hitches, he expected the vote to be fair and credible.

"We therefore continue to appeal for patience from the public," he said earlier in the day. "Nobody should celebrate, nobody should complain."

To try to prevent a repeat of the contested outcome that sparked the violence after the December 2007 vote, the new, broadly-respected election commission is using more technology to prevent fraud, speed up counting and increase transparency. But the new system has come up short of its expectations.