Two days after Kenya’s general election, officials were yet to announce who was leading the presidential race in East Africa’s regional powerhouse, as confused citizens struggled to make sense of divergent tallies from the media in a nail-bitingly close race.
Media houses were compiling results from images of forms that the electoral commission uploaded onto its website from more than 46,229 polling stations, a mammoth task that means their tallies lag far behind the amount of raw data available.
Some citizens worried the media’s differing tallies could inflame claims of rigging, which have sparked violence in past elections. Many urged fellow citizens to wait for the official results.
“There is so much impatience due to media reports, because they are varying. Given the experience that we have in Kenya, we have to be patient and just wait,” said Ongao Okello, as he scrutinised newspapers being sold on a street corner in the western town of Eldoret.
Results are being watched carefully: Kenya is the region’s richest economy, a stable nation in a volatile region and a close Western ally that hosts regional headquarters for Alphabet (GOOGL.O), Visa (V.N) and other international groups.
Veteran opposition leader and former political prisoner, Raila Odinga, 77, is making his fifth stab at the presidency. He is neck and neck with Deputy President, William Ruto, 55.
Outgoing President, Uhuru Kenyatta, has reached his two-term limit. He has endorsed Odinga for president after falling out with Ruto after the last election.
Kenyan election authorities have preceded with tallying cautiously, wary of the mistakes that caused the Supreme Court to nullify the results last time and order a re-run.
Media houses have filled the information gap by recruiting hundreds of people to manually input results from the images of results forms into spreadsheets.
Their tallies differed because results from polling stations were uploaded just as they came in, and so each media group was counting at a different pace and not necessarily in the same order.
By 1200 GMT on Thursday, the privately-owned Nation group had tallied results from four-five polling stations and put Odinga ahead with 50.40 per cent of the vote and Ruto at 48.92 per cent. -Reuters