Nairobi - Kenya's critical presidential election was plunged
into further disarray on Thursday after the party of one of the leading
candidates alleged vote-rigging and demanded that the count be halted.
The accusations by Prime Minister Raila Odinga's running
mate came a day after his chief rival, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta,
protested at the inclusion of spoiled ballots in the vote count, a process that
could increase the chances of a second round runoff.
Monday's elections in the regional powerhouse were the first
since 2007 when a dispute over the counting process erupted into weeks of
deadly violence that left more than 1 100 people dead.
"We have evidence that the results we have received
have been doctored," Odinga's running mate, outgoing vice president
Kalonzo Musyoka, told reporters, adding that in some cases "total votes
cast exceeds the actual number of registered voters."
Odinga says he was robbed of victory in the last polls in
2007 when disputed results triggered the bloody ethnic killings.
But Musyoka urged calm, stressing that his accusations were
"not a call to mass action" and that the party was "committed to
the principle of rule of law".
"Because of these concerns, we as a coalition take the
position that the national vote tallying process lacks integrity and has to be
stopped," Musyoka said, demanding that "primary documents" from
polling stations be used.
Kenyatta, who faces a trial at the International Criminal
Court on charges of crimes against humanity over the 2007-08 violence, held a
clear lead as counting continued Thursday, with almost half of estimated
ballots cast so far tallied.
As of 09:00 GMT, two and a half days since polls closed,
Kenyatta had won 54% of valid votes against 40 percent for Odinga, according to
official results relayed by Kenyan media.
Both Kenyatta - one of Africa's richest and most powerful
men - and his running mate William Ruto face charges of orchestrating murder,
rape, forcible transfer and persecution in the aftermath of the 2007 elections.
Concerns have been raised at the widespread failure of a
system under which the electoral commission had been broadcasting running
tallies based on encrypted text messages received from polling stations.
Leaders have urged calm after hitches caused an electronic
tallying system to stall, forcing the Independent Electoral and Boundaries
Commission (IEBC) on Wednesday to start reading out results delivered in person
by returning officers.
Kenyatta's party has also raised major concerns over
Party official Charity Ngilu said Wednesday that the
inclusion of mountains of spoiled ballots in the count was motivated by a
"sinister and suspect" logic.
Initial results sent electronically showed that the spoiled
ballots made up more than five percent of votes cast, greatly adding to the
number needed for a candidate to break the 50% threshold for a first round win
and increasing the prospect of a runoff due within a month.
However, official results showed a far lower number of
rejected ballots counted - more than 38 000 so far on Thursday, according to
Kenya's Citizen TV, as opposed to the several hundreds of thousands reported in
No explanation has yet been given for the difference.
"All of a sudden, because of this manual delivery of
tallies, there is a tremendous reduction in the number of spoilt votes,"
Partial results from over 4.6 million votes - from a total
of 14.3 million registered voters - showed that Kenyatta had won more than 2.4
million against almost 1.9 million for Odinga.
To win outright and avoid a second round, a candidate must
win more than half of all votes cast, according to the constitution, as well as
at least 25% of votes in more than half of all 47 counties.
IEBC chairperson Ahmed Issack Hassan has said official
results are expected on Friday, although legally the commission has until
Monday to deliver the tallies.
Odinga and Kenyatta - the son of independent Kenya's
founding president - have publicly vowed there will be no repeat of the 2007-08
But the trials later this year at The Hague-based ICC for
Kenyatta and Ruto have raised the stakes in the election race: should they win
the vote, the president and vice-president could be absent for years.
Kenya has been largely calm in recent days apart from
isolated incidents of violence.