Veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga fell behind his counterpart in Kenya’s presidential race on Sunday, according to official results reported by Kenyan media.
Official verified results reported by the Nation media group showed left-leaning Odinga taking 48% of the vote, while Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto edged ahead with 51%.
Confusion over vote tallying in the media and the slow pace of progress by the electoral commission have fed anxiety in Kenya, which is East Africa’s richest and most stable nation, but which has a history of violence following disputed elections.
The nedia was unable to get access to the official running vote tally for the presidential race on Sunday. A live feed displaying the results at the national tallying center had disappeared hours earlier.
Odinga is making his fifth bid for Kenya’s presidency but this time with the support of his former foe and current President Uhuru Kenyatta. Odinga and Kenyatta set their differences aside four years ago after a bitter dispute following the 2017 vote, effectively side-lining Kenyatta’s deputy William Ruto, who has been vocal about his own presidential ambitions.
In Odinga’s last three runs for office in 2007, 2013 and 2017, he led his supporters in protest at the outcomes or challenged them in court, saying his victories were stolen. Deadly clashes followed the 2007 and 2017 votes.
Video: Update on Kenya’s election results
Odinga, who had outlined a plan for improving socioeconomic welfare and said he would fight poverty, has been touting his long experience in national leadership, including a stint as prime minister.
He had also promised to stamp out widespread graft, give a monthly stipend of 6,000 shillings (R860,47) to the unemployed, and unite Kenya’s ethnic groups. Odinga had also said he would manage the ballooning public debt and slash borrowing. Kenya, with a 2022/23 budget of 3.3 trillion shillings has a deficit of 6.2% of gross domestic product, owes China about $8 billion.
Ruto was an Odinga ally in 2007, when police crackdowns on protesters and clashes that turned into ethnic attacks killed more than 1,000 people in post-election violence, eventually prompting a new constitution to devolve power. Ruto teamed up with Kenyatta in 2013.
Video: Kenyans continue the anxious wait for the presidential election results