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Kenya election 2017: Vote counting under way

NAIROBI – Votes are being counted in Kenya’s general election after a day of long queues and little trouble.

Some polling stations remained open after the 17:00 (14:00 GMT) deadline in areas where heavy rain and other problems had hampered voting.

Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta is hoping for a second time in office, but faces a tough challenge from his long-time rival Raila Odinga.

Many fear a repeat of the violence that followed the disputed 2007 election.

More than 1,100 Kenyans died and 600,000 were displaced.

Some of the votes have already come in, but it could be days before the full result is known.

To win outright, a candidate needs more than 50% of the vote, and at least 25% in 24 of Kenya’s 47 counties. If that threshold is not met, a run-off vote between the top two candidates will be triggered.

Voting for the national and local assemblies are also taking place.

Scenes from the polling station

People started queuing early to ensure they could cast their vote. Long queues could be seen, and video footage at one polling station showed people injured on the ground after an apparent stampede.

Queue outside polling station in Nairobi city centreImage copyright/REUTERS
Image caption – People began queuing early in the morning and even overnight to cast their votes

There was also the failure of some voter-identification equipment and one in four polling stations were apparently without mobile phone coverage meaning that officials would have to drive to the nearest town to send results.

There were reports that one man had been killed in clashes in there Kilifi area.

But there was one heartening moment when a woman gave birth to a baby girl as she queued in West Pokot to cast her ballot. New mother Pauline Chemanang called the circumstances of the birth a “blessing” and called her baby Kura, Swahili for “ballot”, according to local radio.

Electoral officials count votes for the presidential poll at a polling station near Isinya, Kajiado County, some 60km south of the capital Nairobi, Kenya, 08 August 2017.Image copyrightEPA
Image captionElection officials will be busy through the night counting the votes
President Uhuru Kenyatta votes in KatunduImage copyrightAFP
Image captionMr Kenyatta called on Kenyans to pull the country together
Raila Odinga votingImage copyrightEPA
Image captionMr Odinga has raised fears of vote-rigging

Casting his vote in his hometown of Gatundu, north of Nairobi, Mr Kenyatta said he would accept the outcome of the election.

“To my competitors, as I have always said, in the event that they lose, let us accept the will of the people. I am willing, myself, to accept the will of the people,” he said.

Opposition leader Mr Odinga cast his ballot in the Nairobi slum of Kibera.

Speaking outside the voting centre, he told his supporters: “Let’s turn out in large numbers and vote.”

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Testing time ahead

By Alastair Leithead, BBC News, Mathare

So far Kenya’s national elections have been going well, but the queues are long and the voters impatient.

Many arrived in the middle of the night to cast their ballots early and the electronic system is taking quite a while to verify voters.

If fingerprints don’t register, ID card numbers have to be typed in to the electronic tablets and then there’s a manual backup.

The responsibility lies with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to deliver a free and fair election.

The test will come when the polls close, the votes are counted and the results have to be transmitted to the tallying centres.

The presidential race is expected to be close.

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Mr Odinga, 72, has run for president three times and lost each time. President Kenyatta, the 55-year-old son of Kenya’s founding president, beat him in the last election in 2013, but their rivalry is generations old – their fathers were political opponents in the 1960s.

Mr Kenyatta and his running-mate William Ruto were indicted by the International Criminal Court for their alleged roles in the bloodshed a decade ago. The case ultimately collapsed due to lack of evidence, and after key witnesses died or disappeared.

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Kenya’s election in numbers:

Media captionKenya elections 2017: ‘Six-piece’ vote explained
  • Six separate ballot papers: For president, national assembly, female representatives, governors, senate and county assemblies
  • 47 parliamentary seats and 16 senate seats reserved for women
  • Eight presidential candidates: President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga are favourites
  • Kenyatta beat Odinga in 2013 – their fathers were also political rivals in the 1960s
  • A candidate needs 50% plus one vote for first-round victory
  • More than 14,000 candidates running across the six elections
  • More than 45% of registered voters under 35
  • Some 180,000 security officers on duty nationwide in case of trouble

Decoding the poll

Vote strains mixed ethnicity marriages

What first-time voters make of it all

View of those behind 2007 poll violence

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Chief EU observer Marietje Schaake said much would depend on the faith people hold in the new electronic voting system.

Before election day, a top election official was murdered, there were claims of vote-rigging and hate speech flyers and rhetorical text messages began circulating.

Some nervous Kenyans stockpiled food and water, while police prepared emergency first aid kits in the event of violence.

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