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Britain, U.S. appeal for patience in Kenya amid poll anxiety

A supporter of Kenyan opposition presidential candidate Raila Odinga pauses during a march in the Mathare slum in Nairobi on August 10, 2017, following an announcement by the opposition party, two days after the election. Kenya’s main opposition coalition demanded on August 10 that its candidate Raila Odinga be declared president, claiming it had evidence he had won an election that has already led to angry protests over fraud claims. The latest allegations by the National Super Alliance (NASA) are likely to further ratchet up tensions a day before official results are expected from the August 8 vote. / AFP PHOTO / MARCO LONGARI

Britain and the United States on Friday appealed to Kenyans to remain patient as the electoral body verify the results and investigate reports of fraud.

In separate statements, Washington and London said any disputes should be addressed through the established resolution mechanisms, in line with Kenya’s Constitution.

“We urge all parties and their supporters to peacefully and patiently await the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) announcement of official results.

“The IEBC should be given an opportunity to complete its tallying,” said Heather Nauert, U.S. State Department’s spokesperson in a statement issued on Thursday night.

Nauert lauded the millions of Kenyans who on Tuesday peacefully exercised their fundamental democratic right to choose their leaders.

The statement comes as the results of the hotly contested presidential election are expected Friday, as people continue to remain indoors and businesses closed for fear of electoral violence.

Kenyans who thronged various polling stations to choice their leaders are anxiously waiting to learn the outcome of Tuesday’s presidential poll pitting incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta against opposition leader Raila Odinga.

British Minister for Africa, Rory Stewart, asked Kenyans to be patient as IEBC verified the results amid anxiety among Kenyans.

“We urge political parties and candidates to remember that Kenya and Kenyans matter more than any candidate, party or election, and to refrain from actions or statements which could heighten tension whilst the country awaits the vote outcome,” Stewart said in a statement issued on Thursday night.

“We call on all Kenyans and international partners to continue to work together in the spirit of peace, partnership and democracy over the coming hours and days.

“We also appeal to Kenyans to await the final outcome as determined by the IEBC, which must be given the time and space to complete its important work, including investigating any evidence of fraud,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s electoral commission has warned the opposition that its claims of victory for its presidential candidate, Odinga, could be deemed illegal.

The opposition has published its own figures, putting Raila ahead of incumbent President Kenyatta.

This contrasts with provisional electronic results giving Kenyatta a clear lead in Tuesday’s poll.

The IEBC is the only body legally allowed to count votes.

The head of the Carter Centre observer mission, John Kerry, said the group was satisfied with measures put in place by IEBC to conduct credible elections.

“The IEBC has put in place and has thus far followed a detailed process of paper ballot counting and security which, if followed through to the final steps, can give every Kenyan confidence that their vote was properly recorded and therefore this election can appropriately certify the outcome,” Kerry said.

He added that minor variances from established process would not affect the overall integrity and process of the polls.


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