Kenya’s Kenyatta Leads Election, Hovers Near Runoff Cutoff

Uhuru Kenyatta, who is facing charges of crimes against humanity, kept a lead in Kenya’s presidential election that may not be enough to avoid a runoff against Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Kenyatta has 50 percent of the total votes cast, while Odinga has 43.8 percent with more than three-quarters of the ballots counted, according to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. The candidates need more than 50 percent of the total to avoid a runoff. Final results may be announced today, according to the commission.

The shilling gained for a second day, advancing less than 0.1 percent to 86.20 per dollar. The election is the first since a disputed presidential ballot in 2007 triggered violence that killed more than 1,100 people and forced 350,000 more to flee their homes. The country is a regional hub for companies including Google Inc., Toyota Motor Corp., and Visa Inc.

“It is looking peaceful and the market is hoping that in case anyone has an issue they will take it to court and not to the streets,” Julius Kiriinya, a trader at Nairobi-based African Banking Corp., said by phone. “On that basis the shilling should strengthen.”

The Nairobi Securities Exchange’s All Share Index advanced for an eighth day, extending the All Share Index’s advance to 7 percent over that period and to 18 percent so far this year, the second-best performance in sub-Saharan Africa, after Ghana.

Technical Glitches

A series of technical faults led to delays in the counting in an election the African Union said was credible and transparent in spite of the hitches. Machines used to identify voters by fingerprint failed in many polling stations on election day, forcing authorities to use paper voting registers.

A new electronic transmission system to relay provisional results from polling stations to the national tally center also broke down. The commission then opted to manually count hand-delivered ballots from the constituencies, which is required by law for the final results.

If no presidential candidate secures the required majority and more than 25 percent of ballots cast in 24 of 47 counties, a runoff must be held within 30 days of the first round.

The Kenyan High Court today dismissed a suit by The African Centre for Open Governance seeking an order halting the vote count. The Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction to rule on matters involving a presidential election, Judge David Majanja said while delivering the ruling of a three-judge panel.

Case Dismissed

The group filed its case after saying it found the number of votes in 11 constituencies exceeded the total registered voters, Haron Ndubi, a lawyer for the Nairobi-based group, told reporters today.

Kenyatta is accused by the International Criminal Court of crimes against humanity for his role in organizing clashes after the 2007 election, a charge he denies. The Hague-based court yesterday postponed the starting date of his trial by three months to July 9, and today delayed the trial of his running mate William Ruto’s case until May 28.

Kenyatta and Odinga have similar plans for the $34 billion economy. They both promise to boost investment in expanding infrastructure and bolstering agricultural output to help grow the economy and create a million new jobs annually.

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