Uhuru Kenyatta aiming to avoid run-off

2013-03-08 11:28
Uhuru Kenyatta.

Uhuru Kenyatta.

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Nairobi - Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta was Friday holding on to a slim lead over his rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, with his vote tally hovering around the 50-per-cent mark needed to avoid a runoff in the Kenyan presidential race.

Kenyatta, who is to face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his alleged involvement in ethnic violence after an election in 2007, had about 50.2%, while Odinga was on about 44% of the votes counted by Friday morning.

Officials have now counted votes from 216 out of 291 constituencies, meaning the election could still swing either way.

Ballot counting was proceeding slowly owing to a massive failure of a computer system, forcing election officials to deliver ballot boxes from around the country to Nairobi, where they were being counted manually. Polls closed on Monday night.

Odinga's camp and several Kenyan civil society groups have called for a halt in the counting, citing irregularities and problems with the transparency of the tally. The election commission has rejected their calls.

Meanwhile, the ICC said Kenyatta's trial was to be postponed from April - which would have made it coincide with a possible run-off vote - to June.

Kenyatta and his vice-presidential running mate, William Ruto, are among four people indicted by the ICC for their alleged roles in orchestrating the ethnic violence of 2007. They deny the charges.

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