|Kenyatta leads Kenya vote, despite crimes indictment
Kenyans nervously eyed results trickling from the presidential election, the first since disputed polls five years ago triggered a wave of bloodletting, with deputy prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta taking an early lead.
Kenyatta, who faces a trial for crimes against humanity over the violence that killed more than 1,100 people and forced over 600,000 to flee their homes, edged ahead in partial results over rival Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who says he was robbed of victory in 2007, AFP reports.
Millions of Kenyans turned out peacefully yesterday for the elections, seen as key to stability in the regional powerhouse.
Partial results from some 37 percent of the almost 32,000 polling stations -- with over 4.4 million valid ballots counted from the 14.3 million registered voters -- had been sent to the central tallying centre in the capital Nairobi.
Of those counted at 12:15 pm local time, Kenyatta had won almost 2.43 million or 54 percent of valid votes cast against Odinga with 1.82 million or 40 percent, but with the majority of votes yet to be tallied, Kenyatta's lead could still be easily overturned.
However, more than 277,000 rejected ballots made up 5 percent of votes cast.
``This election is a turning point, and its outcome will determine whether the country will proceed as a civilised state,'' the Daily Nation newspaper said, adding that all Kenyans must ``be ready to accept the election results.''
But while few other incidents were reported, there were complaints across the country at the widespread failure of electronic biometric voting registration kits introduced to frustrate potential rigging.
The BVR failure meant stations used paper records and manual registration.
To win, a candidate must take more than 50 percent of votes – as well as winning at least 25 percent of votes in more than half of all counties – to avoid a second round runoff, due within a month after final results.
Running third, deputy prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi had taken 2 percent of votes, while none of the other five candidates had taken more than 1 percent.
The results of 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.
Odinga and his rival Kenyatta -- one of Kenya's richest and most powerful men -- have publicly vowed there will be no repeat of the 2007-08 bloodshed.
But crimes against humanity trials later this year at The Hague-based International Criminal Court for Kenyatta and running mate William Ruto have raised the stakes: should they win the vote, the president and vice-president could be absent for years.
Kenyatta faces five counts including orchestrating murder, rape, forcible transfer and persecution.