Kenya vote results delayed by glitches

Election officials in Kenya looked over ballot boxes at the tallying center in Nairobi.
Election officials in Kenya looked over ballot boxes at the tallying center in Nairobi.

NAIROBI — As results from Kenya’s hotly contested presidential election continued to trickle in Wednesday, persistent delays spawned all sorts of fears, frustrations, and conspiracy theories.

The election was Monday, but because of a breakdown in a new vote-transmission system, results that should have been received and tabulated by Wednesday were not expected until later this week, keeping the country on edge.

On Wednesday, the presidential campaign of Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s deputy prime minister, who has been charged by the International Criminal Court with crimes against humanity, lashed out at the British government, accusing it of meddling in the vote.


Kenyatta’s team said it was ‘‘deeply concerned about the shadowy, suspicious, and rather animated involvement of the British high commissioner’’ and ‘‘alarmed by the abnormally high influx of British military personnel in the country which began around the voting day, under the pretext of training.’’

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The British Foreign Office dismissed the claims of interference as ‘‘false and misleading’’ and said the British troops were on a ‘‘routine exercise’’ that was ‘‘completely unrelated to the Kenyan elections.’’

Kenyatta, the scion of one of the richest families in Africa, has been leading in the preliminary vote count. He has been ahead by more than 10 percentage points over the second-place vote-getter, Raila Odinga, Kenya’s prime minister.

But late Tuesday, the election commission decided to include hundreds of thousands of spoiled ballots in the overall count, of which a candidate must get more than 50 percent to win. Election observers say that decision may mean the election will go to a runoff, angering Kenyatta’s supporters.

This is Kenya’s first presidential election since 2007, when widespread evidence of vote-rigging set off intense ethnic clashes that killed more than 1,000 people. Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court accuse Kenyatta and his running mate of organizing some of the violence.


Kenya has undertaken many major reforms since then. In this election, votes were supposed to be transmitted directly from tallying centers to the election headquarters via encrypted data messages. But the computer servers at the election headquarters crashed Tuesday, and now officials are tabulating results manually.