NAIROBI — Technical problems have forced Kenyan election officials to ditch an electronic system and to undertake a slower count of ballots. And the delays and other problems with tabulating the vote have sparked anxieties in Kenya.
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Kenyan officials, in a painstaking and slow process, are reading out the tally, piecemeal, from the country’s presidential election held on Monday.
A problem with a mobile phone-based communications system has forced officials to add up the vote on paper, leaving Kenyans waiting for the results for days.
Here in Kisumu, in western Kenya, patience is beginning to run out.
John Ochieng, a teacher, is fed up with the delays. “They’ve really disappointed Kenyans so much, at times we find that transmitting the results is very slow, now we are returning where we came from, which is the manual," he said.
The presidential race pits Prime Minister Raila Odinga against Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya's first president. He's been accused of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court for his alleged involvement in violence after the last elections.
The two candidates were virtually tied in polls released before the election and both have predicted victory in the first round.
Issack Hassan chairs Kenya's electoral commission. He has urged all parties to be patient.
"The commission wishes to assure the parties, the candidates, in particular the presidential candidates and their agents, especially the chief agents and their supporters, that the commission will provide regular and timely announcement of results as and when they are received from the other remaining constituencies," he said.
Political parties have raised concerns about the delays and other irregularities in the election process. Much of the controversy centers around how to resolve hundreds of thousands of rejected ballots.
Independent analyst Abdullahi Boru says this damages confidence in the vote.
“I mean the slow process in which the results are trickling in has two implications. One, it will make people start feeling anxious and that builds up tension. And the second thing is, well, why is the system not as efficient as we were promised and then people will start questioning the integrity or the legitimacy of the process," he said.
The electoral commission says it expects to announce official results as soon as Friday morning.
But officials are reminding voters that legally they have until Monday.