Opposition leader Odinga leads Kenya presidential race, official results show

NAIROBI, Aug 13 (Reuters) – Veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga has led Kenya’s presidential race, official election results showed on Saturday, pushing Vice President William Ruto into second place.

With just over 26% of the vote counted, Odinga had 54% and Ruto 45%, according to results provided by Kenya’s electoral commission and displayed on a large screen at a national counting center in the capital, Nairobi.

East Africa’s richest nation and most vibrant democracy held presidential, parliamentary and local elections on Tuesday.

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Ruto and Odinga are in a close race to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has reached his two-term limit. Kenyatta fell out with Ruto after the last election and backed Odinga.

The official vote count is progressing slowly, fueling public anxiety. Read more

Electoral commission chairman Wafula Chebukati blamed party agents, who are allowed to review results forms before they are added to the final tally.

“The officers in this exercise cannot continue…as if we were doing a forensic audit,” he said during a Friday press briefing.

“We are not moving as fast as we should. This exercise must be concluded as soon as possible.”

Representatives of Odinga’s and Ruto’s coalitions did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Reuters news agency and other media compiled the results forms for 291 constituencies posted on the election commission’s website. These have not yet been verified and this count is well ahead of the official count.

As of 12:00 GMT, Reuters had tallied 237 forms, which showed Ruto leading with almost 53% of the vote, against just over 46% for Odinga. Two other candidates had less than 1% between them.

Nineteen other forms could not be included in the count because they were illegible or lacked information.

The forms Reuters is counting are preliminary and results are subject to change. Once the forms are uploaded to the commission’s website, Kenyan electoral law requires that they be physically taken to the national counting center, where party representatives can examine them for any discrepancies.

The process was designed as a safeguard against the kind of rigging allegations that sparked violence after previous polls. Over 1,200 people were killed after a disputed election in 2007 and over 100 killed after a disputed election in 2017.

The winning candidate must receive 50% of the national vote plus one, and at least 25% of the vote of 24 of the 47 counties.

The commission has until Tuesday to declare a winner.

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Additional reporting by Katharine Houreld Writing by Katharine Houreld Editing by Alexandra Zavis, Mark Bendeich and Frances Kerry

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