Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has won over 96 percent of the votes counted so far from Thursday’s re-run election, according to a local media tally of numbers released at the constituency level by the election commission.
The tally, compiled by the Daily Nation media group with 200 of 292 constituencies having reported, showed Kenyatta had won 5.58 million votes, well ahead of rival, opposition leader Raila Odinga, who boycotted the process.
With nearly all followers of Odinga heeding the veteran politician’s call for a boycott, Kenyatta’s victory is not in question. Less clear is his ability to unite the East African nation, whose deep ethnic divisions have been exposed during the bloody and controversial election process and multiple court cases in the past three months.
The first election, on 8 August, was annulled by the Supreme Court because of procedural irregularities, denying Kenyatta a simple victory over his long-term political rival.
Voting on Thursday was marred by skirmishes between police and stone-throwing opposition supporters, who prevented polling stations from opening in four pro-Odinga counties, forcing election officials to postpone the exercise by 48 hours.
The election commission said more than one in 10 polling stations failed to open. Its chairman, Wafula Chebukati, Tweeted overnight that 6.55 million ballots had been cast – just 34.5 percent of registered voters.
By contrast, turnout in the August election was 80 percent.
The outcome of the election process is being closely watched across East Africa, which relies on Kenya as a trade and logistics hub, and in the West, which considers Nairobi a bulwark against Islamist militancy in Somalia and conflict in South Sudan and Burundi.
In the western city of Kisumu, police used tear gas and fired live rounds over the heads of stone-throwing youths. Gunfire killed one protester and wounded three, a nurse said. In Homa Bay county next door, police said they shot dead one protester and injured another.
There were similar scenes in Kibera and Mathare, two volatile Nairobi slums. At least one person was shot in the leg, a Red Cross official said, and a church was fire-bombed.
Around 50 people have been killed, mostly by security forces, since the original August vote, raising fears of sustained violence only a decade after 1,200 people were killed in serious ethnic fighting triggered by another disputed presidential election.
Legal challenges to the re-run are expected. If they fail to provide a clear path out of the crisis, including an order for another repeat election, many Kenyans fear protracted political stalemate between the Kenyatta and Odinga camps.
“Unless the courts annul the election, Kenyatta will move forward without a clear mandate and Odinga will pursue a protest strategy whose chances of success in the circumstances are not very high,” said International Crisis Group analyst Murithi Mutiga.