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Kenya's vote for president tightens

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By The Associated Press
Thursday, March 7, 2013, 9:54 p.m.
 

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya's presidential race tightened late Thursday as new results pushed the leading candidate below the crucial 50 percent mark needed to win outright.

A final result is expected on Friday, but the close race and a troubled vote count are fueling fears of the kind of violence that gripped the country after its last national election.

Tensions rose as the political coalition led by Kenya's prime minister, currently running second, alleged that some vote results have been doctored and called for a stop to a tallying process it said “lacked integrity.”

The statement by Raila Odinga's coalition said the counting process should be restarted using primary documents from polling stations, but the election commission insisted there was no way to doctor the results.

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta had a small lead over Odinga, though crucially Kenyatta for the first time slipped below the 50 percent threshold that would give him a clean win.

Kenyatta and running mate William Ruto face charges in the International Criminal Court for their alleged involvement in directing post-election violence five years ago. The court announced that the start of Kenyatta's trial would be delayed from April until July.

Kenya's national vote on Monday was the first since the 2007 election sparked tribe-on-tribe attacks that killed more than 1,000 people. Minor protests have cropped up, but no large-scale rioting or ethnic violence has occurred.

As time passes without a final result, though, tensions are rising, sparking fears that the dam now holding back potential protests could break.

The winner must capture 50 percent of the vote from the eight presidential candidates in order to win; otherwise, there is a runoff.

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