Kenyatta takes early lead in Kenyan elections

On 6 March presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta from the Jubilee alliance remains in the lead, two days after Kenyans went to the polls in the nation's first presidential and parliamentary elections under the new constitution which was passed by referendum in 2010.

Votes counted so far indicate that Kenyatta leads over the country's present prime minister Raila Odinga by 53 per cent of the vote to 42 per cent, according to early provisional results from polling stations, many of which remain protected by a heavy police and military presence.

If these results are confirmed then the presidential elections will not need to go to a run-off in a second round of voting on 11 April.

The election has been hampered by the slow arrival of votes from certain areas, and hitches with the new electronic voter system, forcing electoral officers to deliver the paper copies of the returns by hand. The BBC reported that at 13.00 on 6 March, returning officers from only 53 of the 290 constituencies had arrived.

On 5 March the electoral commission's initial rejection of more than 300,000 “spoiled ballots” caused Odinga's supporters to claim that the if the rejected votes were counted they could prevent Kenyatta from winning the 50 per cent of the vote necessary to avoid a run-off in April. The commission has now changed its original decision and has included the spoiled votes in the overall count.

According to Kenya’s main daily newspaper The Daily Nation this could reduce Kenyatta’s present lead by three percentage points and increase Odinga’s lead by the same percentage.

Kenyatta’s team has accused Britain of interfering in the commission’s decision whether or not to count the spoiled ballots, citing the "shadowy, suspicious and rather animated involvement” of the British High Commissioner to Kenya, Christian Turner who it claimed had lobbied for the spoiled votes to be counted. Turner immediately rejected the allegations.

Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto are both indicted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity, relating to the post-election violence in 2007-2008 in which 1,100 people died and hundreds of thousands made homeless. The violence was the result of an inconclusive election between Odinga and the incumbent president Mwai Kibaki.

Kenyatta's trial was recently postponed, probably until the summer but, if elected, he has promised to attend the court sessions. Kenyatta's rival Odinga has raised concerns over the indictment, saying that, if victorious, his opponent would run a "Skype government" from The Hague.