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Ruto takes a lead in Kenya’s presidential vote count as tempers heat up.


The fracas highlighted the testy tempers and high tensions within the national counting room as the country awaits the official results of last Tuesday’s election. Citizens have made ironic remarks online about the slump, pointing out that the rest of the nation is patiently waiting.

In the race for the presidency, official verified results, reported by the Nation media group, show that Ruto won 51% of the vote, ahead of left-wing opposition leader Raila Odinga who won 48%.

Confusion over the media vote count and the slow progress of the electoral commission have fueled concern in Kenya, which is East Africa’s wealthiest and most stable nation but has a violent after disputed elections.

Reuters was unable to access the official vote tally for the presidential race on Sunday. A live stream displaying the results at the national tally center had disappeared hours earlier.

Asked about the count, a commission spokeswoman referred Reuters to the live stream. Other election officials said they were unable to provide the information.

The results officially verified on Saturday, with just over a quarter of the votes counted, put Odinga in the lead with 54% of the vote while Ruto had 45%.

The winner must obtain 50% of the votes plus one. The commission has seven days from the vote to declare the winners.

A Reuters tally of 255 of 291 preliminary results at constituency level as of 1200 GMT on Sunday showed Ruto leading with 52% and Odinga with just over 47%. Two underage candidates shared less than one percent between them.

Reuters did not include 19 forms in the count because they lacked signatures, totals, were illegible or had other problems.

The preliminary count is based on forms that can be revised if discrepancies are discovered during the official verification process.

The many checks and balances are designed to try to prevent the kind of rigging allegations that sparked violence in 2007, when more than 1,200 people were killed, and in 2017, when more than 100 people were killed.

CHAOS IN THE COUNTING ROOM

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

Kenyatta leaves power having increased Kenya’s debt for expensive infrastructure projects and failing to tackle the endemic corruption that has drained all levels of government. The next president will also have to deal with rapidly rising food and fuel costs.

Ruto’s strong record reflects widespread dissatisfaction with Kenyatta’s legacy, even in parts of the country where the president had already won the ballot.

A large number of Kenyans also did not vote, saying neither candidate inspired them.

On Sunday, Johnson Sakaja, a member of Ruto’s party, won the governorship of the capital Nairobi, the wealthiest and most populous county of the 47 counties.

TENSIONS AT THE CENTER OF DEPOUILLEMENT

As the close race continues, party agents have become increasingly restless at the counting centre, known as Bomas. Late Saturday, Raila Odinga’s chief agent, Saitabao ole Kanchory, grabbed a microphone and announced “Bomas of Kenya is a crime scene”, before officials cut off his microphone.

Party agents fought among themselves, with the police and with election agents, at one point trying to drag an agent out.

The scenes, broadcast on national news, were met with amazement by Kenyans, who urged their leaders to grow.

“The Bomas reckless behavior of so-called leaders, which can quickly inflame the country, must be exposed,” tweeted Alamin Kimathi, a human rights activist. “Let the drama end. Let the process continue.”



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