West faces nervous wait as Uhuru Kenyatta edges closer to victory

Local media agree to avoid speculation in bid to avoid repeat of 2007 post-election violence

Nairobi

Kenya will find out this morning whether it has elected a man indicted of crimes against humanity, as Uhuru Kenyatta led the presidential election with more than 90 per cent of the vote counted.

Mr Kenyatta, who is due to stand trial at the International Criminal Court in July, was leading his nearest rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, by 50-43 per cent. The son of Kenya's first post-independence president needed 50 per cent plus one vote to secure a first round win.

For much of the day his share of the vote bobbed above and below the half-way threshold raising the possibility of a run-off against Mr Odinga which would be held next month pending any legal challenges.

With final results expected, Kenya's election authority, the IEBC, delayed confirmation of the first round win while disputed results from 11 constituencies were audited by rival political parties. It has been a fractious five days in a country still haunted by the post-election violence of the last poll and delayed results have drained credibility from the process.

On election day the expensively procured biometric voter identification kits failed in many polling stations due to power shortages; then an electronic results transmission system meant to safeguard against fraud also broke down.

Mr Odinga, a political veteran whose father clashed with Mr Kenyatta's in the wake of independence, had been due to speak last night but cancelled after being informed that results would be held over until the morning. The 68 year old's Cord coalition has already denounced the count as "doctored" and claimed that more than 250,000 of its votes have gone missing. A first round win for Mr Kenyatta would create a dilemma for Western governments due to his indictment by the ICC. The former deputy prime minister is accused of financing and commanding criminal gangs who took part in the ethnic clashes in 2007-2008 that killed at least 1,300 people. Britain has said it will not have any "non-essential" contact with a Kenyatta presidency, or his running mate, William Ruto, who is also indicted. Mr Ruto's case will begin at The Hague in May.

Remarkably, the country's most dramatic week in the last five years has not translated into drama in the local media. Even last night as the results marathon staggered on and activists heckled tongue-tied officials, local media hosted no speculation on the final outcome.

The ceasefire was part of a "gentleman's agreement" by the Kenyan media owners' association to try and avoid inciting a repeat of the violence that haunted the country five years ago. The result has often been hard to watch. Almost all of Kenya's television networks have switched to 24-hour coverage but confined themselves to relaying the results from the electoral authority and avoided making any projections – as is commonplace in most election coverage.

When the running mate of second-placed Mr Odinga called a press conference on Thursday to complain that results were being "doctored" no networks relayed it live. In place of news there have been recorded peace messages or reporters listing actual results one constituency at a time.

At the last election the media houses, many of which are owned by or linked to leading politicians, had acted as cheerleaders for rival candidates. Some were blamed for inciting the violence at the last outing.

When protests and fighting broke out after the incumbent, Mwai Kibaki, was accused of stealing the vote, members of ethnic groups were sacked from newspapers and TV stations owned by members of rival communities.

There have been complaints from some quarters that the Kenyan media has too far in the opposite direction.

"The self censorship has gone too far," said political analyst Ken Opalo who complained that the public was being denied sensible analysis or interrogation of partial results.

Others like Tom Rhodes from the watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists were concerned.

"While it is commendable that the Kenyan media is taking precautions this time around to ensure not to incite any violence through sensational reporting, many local journalists that I have spoken to express their frustrations over their editors who cull their stories in the name of maintaining peace," he said.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrives at the Rochester by-election count
voicesIs it any wonder that Thornberry, Miliband, and Cameron have no idea about ordinary everyday life?
Life and Style
tech
News
i100BBC political editor Nick Robinson had a lot of explaining to do
Life and Style
Nappies could have advice on them to encourage mothers and fathers to talk to their babies more often
newsTalking to babies can improve their language and vocabulary skills
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Female Support Workers / Carers - From £8.00 per hour

£8 - £12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To assist a young family with the care ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Executive is required...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

£55000 - £70000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world lead...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world leading services pr...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines