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 0900 GMT, Kenyatta had won 54 percent of valid votes against 40 percent for Odinga, according to official results relayed by Kenyan media. Both Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto face charges of orchestrating murder, rape, forcible transfer and persecution in the aftermath of the 2007 elections. Kenya has been largely calm in recent days apart from isolated incidents of violence.AFP