Kenya election: Raila Odinga camp says vote 'doctored'

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Media captionThe BBC's James Copnall reports from Nairobi where he says the allegations are "strong" but "relatively woolly"

The ballot count in Kenya's presidential elections has been rigged, says the running mate of Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who is trailing behind his rival, Uhuru Kenyatta.

Kalonzo Musyoka said they had evidence the results had been doctored and called for vote-counting to be stopped.

The election chief has rejected the claims, as has Mr Kenyatta's party.

The International Criminal Court has postponed the trial of Mr Kenyatta, due on charges for crimes against humanity.

His trial was due to begin next month. He is accused of organising attacks on members of ethnic groups seen as supporters of Mr Odinga during post-election violence in 2007-2008. He denies the charges.

Legal process

More than 1,000 people were killed in the violence which broke out after Mr Odinga claimed he had been cheated of victory by supporters of President Mwai Kibaki. Mr Kibaki is stepping down after two terms in office.

The judges agreed to postpone the trial of Mr Kenyatta and the former head of civil service, Francis Kirimi Muthaura, and set a new start date of 9 July 2013.

Meanwhile, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan has denied the allegations that the election results had been tampered.

"There is no room to doctor results whatsoever," he said.

He said that the ongoing counting of the presidential election results would not be stopped, as it was a legal process.

Earlier, the IEBC's Liliane Mahiri Zaja, told the BBC that no written complaint had so far been received about the way the votes were being counted.

The IEBC has been holding closed-door meetings with diplomats, reports BBC Swahili's Idris Situma.

Fall in rejected ballots

Counting has been severely delayed after the electronic system crashed.

Mr Musyoka said the failure of the electronic results system earlier this week had allowed the vote to be rigged.

"We as a coalition take the position the national vote-tallying process lacks integrity and has to be stopped and re-started using primary documents from the polling stations," he said on Thursday.

But Mr Musyoka also called on Kenyans to remain calm, saying, "We are committed as a coalition to the principle of the rule of law."

Senior members of Mr Odinga's coalition have given the BBC further details about their allegations, saying that the number of ballots counted exceeded that of votes cast at some polling stations.

Mr Kenyatta's Jubilee coalition has rejected the accusations.

"It's unfortunate that Odinga feels the need to try and halt the count," a coalition spokesman said.

"We believe the people of Kenya have waited patiently for the results of this general election. We urge international observers - if they hold sway with Mr Odinga - to encourage him to allow the process of democracy to take its course".

The long delays and these new accusations are increasing the tension, the BBC's James Copnall reports from the capital, Nairobi.

However, until they see comprehensive evidence, many Kenyans will remain sceptical, our correspondent says.

On Wednesday, the head of the EU observer mission, Alojz Peterle, said Kenya had so far demonstrated "an impressive commitment to democratic elections".

But the African Union Election Observation Mission expressed concern over the high level of rejected ballots, which may have resulted from "inadequate voter education" in the run-up to the elections.

Kenyatta in the lead

Following glitches with hi-tech voting and counting systems, the vote-tallying process was started again from scratch, and by hand, on Wednesday.

Results were only being announced after the ballots had been physically delivered to election headquarters in Nairobi, rather than being filed electronically.

Latest figures show Mr Kenyatta has maintained his lead over Mr Odinga.

With about six million votes tallied at 1515 GMT (1815 Nairobi time), Mr Kenyatta had some 3.1 million votes (53%) compared to Mr Odinga's 2.6 million (43%).

But, as turnout was estimated at more than 70% of the country's 14.3 million voters, there is still some way to go.

The number of rejected ballots, which have become a major bone of contention, currently stands at 58,644.

The Jubilee coalition has rejected calls for some of these ballots to be included, as requested by Mr Odinga's allies.

Counting the rejected votes would greatly add to the number needed for a candidate to break the 50% threshold for a first-round win and increase the prospect of a runoff due within a month.

The push for these ballots to be included was motivated by a "sinister and suspect logic", said Charity Ngilu, a senior member of Mr Kenyatta's coalition.

Jubilee accused the British High Commissioner in Kenya of "canvassing to have rejected votes tallied", an accusation the UK Foreign Office described as "entirely false and misleading''.

The winning candidate must get more than 50% of the total votes cast and at least 25% of votes in half of the 47 counties. The latter was a requirement introduced in the new constitution to make sure the new president wins with wide support, rather than only with the backing of voters in his regional and ethnic strongholds.

If there is no clear winner, a second round of voting will take place, probably on 11 April.