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William Ruto edges ahead in Kenya’s presidential race

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Partial official results show the deputy president is slightly ahead in the vote for Kenya’s presidency.

Deputy President William Ruto edged ahead of his main rival Raila Odinga in Kenya’s presidential election as the country remained tentatively for the final election outcome.

Ruto scored 51.25 percent of the vote on Sunday, reversing earlier gains for Odinga, who had 48.09 percent, according to figures from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which tallied results from nearly 50 percent of constituencies.

The election, which took place on Tuesday, is being keenly watched as a test of stability in Kenya, one of East Africa’s wealthiest countries and home to the region’s most lively democracy.

Previous elections in the nation have been plagued by vote manipulation and fatal violence.

The electoral commission must proclaim a winner by Tuesday. The winning candidate must get 50% of the national vote plus one and at least 25% of the vote in 24 of the 47 counties.

With the race so close, observers say an appeal to the Supreme Court by the losing candidate is almost certain, meaning it could be many weeks before a new president takes office.

Residents in western Kenya said they were tired of waiting for outcomes, but they were also depleted by the turmoil of the past.

“We are not prepared for any violence here,” said Ezekiel Kibet, 40, who added that if the process is transparent, he will accept the outcome. “We’re planning how our children will return to school.”

“Let whoever will win rule us,” added Daniel Arap Chepkwony, 63. “Many people think that we here will come out with our weapons, but we will not.”

Voting at a glance

‘Scene of a crime

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

Riot police responded to scuffles at the national tallying center late Saturday, amid anger about the tight results. Before the peace was restored, an operative for Odinga proclaimed from the lectern that the tallying center was the “site of a crime.”

In the latest example of unproven claims made by both top camps while Kenya awaits official results, the agent, Saitabao Ole Kanchory, provided no evidence.

On Sunday, police stayed in the center.

“We must all avoid creating emotions that may easily lead to violence,” local human rights groups and professional organizations said in a joint statement, encouraging candidates and supporters to exercise calm.

Official vote tallying has been sluggish, increasing public disquiet.

Wafula Chebukati, Chairman of the IEBC, accused party agents, who are permitted to scrutinize result papers before they are included in the final total.

“Agents in this exercise cannot proceed … as if we are doing a forensic audit,” he told a news briefing on Friday. “We are not moving as fast as we should. This exercise needs to be concluded as soon as possible.”

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

Both frontrunners have pledged to ensure calm after the outcome is known, with Kenyans still haunted by the deadly violence that followed the 2017 and 2007 polls.

More than 1,200 people were slain following the disputed 2007 elections, while over 100 were killed during the 2017 elections.

In an effort to be honest, the electoral commission, which has faced harsh criticism for its handling of the annulled August 2017 elections, has begun publishing papers on its website that reveal results from each polling station.

Turnout in this election fell drastically to 65 percent, as several Kenyans voiced fatigue with seeing long-familiar political personalities on the ballot, as well as discontent with economic concerns like as pervasive corruption and rising costs.

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