NAIROBI, Kenya — As effects poured in from Kenya’s cliffhanger presidential election, consumers at a cafe in Eldoret, 150 miles north of Nairobi, the capital, stared up at six tv monitors on Thursday evening that have been appearing the competing tallies via Kenyan information media shops.

With 90 % of the votes tallied, the 2 major contenders, William Ruto and Raila Odinga, have been just a few thousand votes aside. Each and every had about 49 % of the vote.

“Individuals are so aggravating,” mentioned Kennedy Orangi, a health center nurse brandishing two cell phones, “that they can’t even suppose instantly.”

Then the tallies floor to a halt.

All at once, thousands and thousands of Kenyans, who have been glued to their televisions, radios and telephones since Tuesday’s vote, have been at the hours of darkness about the most recent result of a neck-and-neck presidential race that has gripped the rustic, and is being scrutinized some distance past.

On Friday, Kenyan information organizations gave quite a lot of explanations for preventing their counts, together with fears of hacking and a want to “synchronize” their effects.

However to many Kenyans, it appeared they were given chilly ft and shied clear of having to claim the winner in a high-stakes political combat that pits Mr. Ruto, the rustic’s vice chairman, in opposition to Mr. Odinga, a political veteran making his 5th run for the presidency.

Now, electorate must proceed their nail-biting wait. Officers say it is going to most likely be Sunday, on the earliest, ahead of the election fee can claim an legitimate winner within the race — and to understand whether or not both candidate can cross the 50 % threshold had to keep away from a runoff.

The stakes on this election are excessive for Kenya, an East African powerhouse with a contemporary historical past of turbulent elections. Nevertheless it additionally reverberates past, as a litmus check for democracy at a time when authoritarianism is advancing throughout Africa, and the globe.

“Kenya is an anchor for steadiness, safety and democracy — no longer simply within the area, or in this continent, however around the globe,” the embassies of the US and 13 different Western international locations mentioned in a remark at the eve of the election.

Seared via complaint of its failings in earlier votes, the nationwide election fee went to nice lengths to make this an exemplary election.

With the cheap of over $370 million, some of the perfect according to voter prices on this planet, the fee sourced published paper ballots from Europe that had extra security measures than Kenya’s foreign money notes. It deployed biometric era to spot electorate via their fingerprints and photographs.

The election fee “has finished an excessively skilled task,” mentioned Johnnie Carson, a former U.S. ambassador to Kenya who’s serving as an election observer. The biometric device “labored higher than many of us expected and has proved to be an invaluable style to construct on.”

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The fee started posting on-line effects from over 46,000 polling stations inside hours of the polls ultimate on Tuesday, a transfer of radical transparency meant to push back fears of possible vote rigging.

However within the counting, issues haven’t long past totally to plot.

The election fee’s choice to submit the effects on-line — permitting the scoop media to do the primary, unofficial tally of the effects — has proved to be problematic. Media organizations tallied in several sequences, resulting in conflicting reviews of who used to be forward.

That drew complaint from world and native observers just like the Kenya Human Rights Fee, which mentioned that divergent tallies have been inflicting “confusion, nervousness, concern, unrest.”

Because the numbers rolled in, it become transparent the race between Mr. Ruto and Mr. Odinga used to be some distance tighter than maximum Kenyans expected. Heading into the election on Tuesday, a number of polls confirmed Mr. Odinga with a relaxed lead.

After the election, the fee’s legitimate rely used to be gradual, as a result of ballot staff needed to delivery paper outcome sheets from the 46,229 polling websites to the nationwide counting heart in Nairobi. Then fee staff had to make sure the papers in opposition to the web database of pictures of the similar sheets.

The ones delays supposed that via Thursday evening it used to be changing into transparent that the primary indication of a winner would most likely come from the scoop media — no longer the election fee — a politically delicate transfer in a rustic the place the media can also be topic to heavy-handed govt interference.

Felix Odhiambo Owuor, govt director of the Electoral Legislation and Governance Institute for Africa, a nonprofit that helped draft tips for the scoop media’s position within the election, mentioned in an interview the media teams pulled out to keep away from a difficult scenario.

“I believe they simply made up our minds it used to be higher to attend” for Kenya’s electoral fee “to catch up,” he mentioned.

Others pointed to direct govt drive to finish the rely. 3 journalists with the Country Media Team, talking at the situation of anonymity to speak about delicate inner issues, mentioned govt officers had careworn their editors to forestall the tallying as a result of, they have been instructed, it used to be developing confusion a few of the public.

On Friday, in an editorial within the Country newspaper, Mutuma Mathiu, editor in leader of the Country Media Team, described what a troublesome process the tallying had turn out to be.

“We aren’t simply tallying figures. We also are looking to stay secure, and open, no longer bankrupt ourselves, keep out of the clutches of affect teams and supply just right, blank knowledge,” he wrote.

In a remark, David Omwoyo, the pinnacle of the federal government’s Media Council of Kenya mentioned that “Nobody has requested any person to forestall the tallying and projection of the effects.”

The one unofficial tallies have been being performed via overseas information organizations — the BBC and a joint effort via Reuters and Google. However they have been in keeping with a collection of constituency effects that, as of nighttime on Friday, used to be simplest 75 % whole.

That might go away Kenyans looking forward to the general effects, to determine who’s their subsequent president, or if the rustic is headed for a runoff and must repeat the entire nervous workout one month from now.

Declan Walsh reported from Nairobi, and Abdi Latif Dahir reported from Eldoret, Kenya.

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