Kenya's civil society group moves to court to stop vote tallying

2013-03-08 13:48:20 GMT2013-03-08 21:48:20(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Kenya's civil society organization moved to court on Friday to stop the ongoing tallying of votes for the Monday's presidential elections whose results will be declared later in the day.

Chief Justice Dr. Willy Mutunga has appointed a three-judge bench who heard arguments from the civil society organization, the Africa Center for Open Governance earlier on Friday.

The Africa Center for Open Governance is seeking to stop the tallying and declaration of the presidential results by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) later on Friday.

The organization is suing the IEBC and its chairman Isaack Hassan, saying the manual tallying process has irregularities and should be stopped and that electronic vote tallying should be used in accordance to the constitution.

The organization's Executive Director Gladwell Otieno said the vote tallying should be stopped until grievances raised by political parties are heard and a credible, transparent and fair process is instituted.

The civil society organization filed the case early on Friday arguing that in some cases, the voter turnout is higher that the registered voters.

The three judge bench which is made up of Judges - Isaac Lenaola, Weldon Korir and David Majanja - are expected to issue a ruling on whether the High Court has powers to stop the tallying process later on Friday. The judges also heard arguments from the IEBC legal team.

The East African nation held its historic general elections on Monday. This was the first time that the country held polls under the new constitution that was enacted in 2010.

The events surrounding this election are being watched eagerly throughout East Africa after what happened in 2007/08, when the country was faced with disintegration following the disputed presidential election of December 2007.

However, Kenya has now undertaken numerous institutional reforms that everyone hopes will prevent a repetition of those sad events.

Apart from enacting a new constitution, the East African nation now has a hugely reformed judiciary that is asserting its independence from the executive.

The administration and regular police have been brought together under a unified command headed by newly-appointed Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo. The East African nation has also a respected IEBC which is currently overseeing the election process.

The legal process comes as the electoral body is due to announce the final official results for the presidential elections later on Friday with Jubilee coalition leader Uhuru Kenyatta still leading in the partial votes count followed close by Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD)'s leader Raila Odinga.

As at local time 13:00hrs, Kenyatta had 4.85 million votes (49. 6 percent) against Odinga's 4.32 million (44.2 percent) of the total votes which have so far been counted so far. Some 223 out of 291 constituencies have so far been counted.

Both Kenyatta and Odinga have left other 6 presidential aspirants trailing. Political analysts said a run-off looks likely since none of the candidates have managed to get the "50 percent plus one" requirement that is provided for in the constitution for a candidate to be declared the winner.

Meanwhile, third-placed presidential contender, Musalia Mudavadi on Friday conceded defeat and said he was ready to work with the winner of the presidential race.

Mudavadi who heads the Amani Coalition thanked all his supporters for keeping peace throughout the election process and urged Kenyans to remain calm as the as IEBC completes the tallying exercise and after the final results are announced.

"I appeal to IEBC to do everything possible not to be seen to cause anxiety or to precipitate contention on the final results through acts of omission or commission in the tallying of results. " he said.

The 52-year-old outgoing Deputy Prime Minister and his running mate Jeremiah Kioni had garnered a total of 358,564 votes as at 13: 20hrs on Friday.

Mudavadi, 52, congratulated Kenyatta and Odinga for their performance, and urged Kenyans to remain calm even as IEBC finalized tallying of the results. He also congratulated all the candidates who had successfully made it through the election process.

"We must now join other Kenyans and be part of building our institutions in accordance with the new Constitution for the country to move on. We want to all move ahead and write a new, brighter chapter in our country's history," Mudavadi said.

Mudavadi said he will support the two leading Coalitions in the Presidential race in ensuring peace prevails across the country.

IEBC said on Thursday that the results are expected to come out on Friday. Its chairman Isaack Hassan said it is allowed by law up to 7 days after the close of polling, meaning next Monday, to announce the results.

For an outright victory in the first round, a candidate must garner at least 50 percent plus one of all votes cast, in addition to getting at least 25 percent of the votes in 24 counties out of 47.

If there is no outright winner in the first round, the top two candidates will proceed into a run-off, where the candidate who obtains more votes becomes president.

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