Kenya’s president took an early lead as results from Tuesday’s national elections trickled in, the culmination of a hard-fought contest between the East African nation’s foremost political dynasties.
Shrouded in fears of violence, the vote pitted President Uhuru Kenyatta, a wealthy 55-year-old businessman and the son of Kenya’s founding president, against Raila Odinga, 72, a former political prisoner and son of Kenya’s first vice-president.
Kenyatta had nearly 58 percent of the vote after 5,455 of 40,883 polling stations had reported results, the electoral commission website said at 1700 GMT.
Opinion polls released a week ago put them neck-and-neck. Campaigning was marked by fiery rhetoric but public speeches were largely free of the ethnic hatred that has married previous contests as the two men faced off for a second time.
The electoral commission urged voters to wait calmly for results.
“During this critical phase, we urge all Kenyans to exercise restraint as we await official results from the polling stations and indeed as they start trickling in,” it said.
Odinga comes from the Luo people in western Kenya, an area that has long felt neglected by the government and resentful of their perceived exclusion from political power.
Kenyatta is a Kikuyu, an ethnic group that has supplied three of Kenya’s four presidents since independence from Britain in 1963.