Kenyan results trickle in

It’s about 11 hours since the polls officially closed in Kenya, but results are slow to come in. Only 7,292 out of 31,981 polling places have reported, or about 22.8%. Apparently voting was pretty chaotic, and where voting was delayed polling places stayed open later to compensate.

There has been some violence, but so far nothing like the 2007-08 mayhem, and turnout is estimated as an encouragingly high 70%. Results are being released as soon as they come in, which is a vital step in building public confidence

So far, deputy prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta has a clear lead with 55.5%, ahead of prime minister Raila Odinga on 40.0%. But since a lot of voting is along ethnic lines, the significance of that depends crucially on where the early votes are coming from. According to the BBC, “analysts cautioned that these results came from Kenyatta strongholds,” so they probably don’t tell us very much.

Both leading candidates said they were confident of victory, but of course they always do. You can follow the results yourself at the Standard or the Daily Nation.

The third place-getter, Musalia Mudavadi, is well back with just 2.9% and none of the other five candidates has more than 1%, so it’s still quite possible that either Kenyatta or Odinga will win an absolute majority.

If not, they will contest a runoff, but it’s not clear exactly when.

Wikipedia states that in that event “a second round will be held on April 11, 2013,” and until yesterday the BBC agreed – you can still see it for example in this story, dated 1 March. Today, however, it’s being more coy, saying only that if no-one wins a majority “the vote will go to a run-off, probably on 11 April.”

Perhaps someone in the meantime has read the Kenyan constitution, which in section 138(5) states that “If no candidate is elected, a fresh election shall be held within thirty days after the previous election” (“fresh election” is a somewhat unfortunate term to use for a second round, but that’s what it means). Clearly, 11 April is not within 30 days of 4 March.

It’s not at all obvious why 11 April would seem a plausible date, since it’s a different day of the week (a Thursday) to the first round. Perhaps there was some misreading of a press release from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, which gives 10 April as the latest possible day for a second round vote – adding (with what legal warrant I don’t know) seven days for declaration of results to the constitutionally provided 30 days.

To confuse things further, an article today in Kenya’s Daily Nation quotes the 30-day rule and says this “would leave April 5 as an indicative date.” But of course that’s not a Monday either (it’s a Friday).

Since everyone else seems to be guessing, I’ll have my guess, which is that a runoff would be held on the last Monday within the 30-day period, namely 1 April. But the reader should be warned that I knew nothing at all about Kenyan constitutional law until I started reading the material yesterday.

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