KISUMU, Kenya (Reuters) – Kenyan police took security precautions on Friday ahead of an expected announcement that President Uhuru Kenyatta has won re-election despite allegations of vote rigging by opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Police stationed extra forces at the airport in the western city of Kisumu in a bid to forestall any protests. The city is in a province that is Odinga’s stronghold.
“We are securing the airport so people can get in and out,” Kisumu County police commissioner Joseph Keitany told Reuters. “We are only putting vehicles in certain areas we deem to be hotspots.”
The election commission may announce a winner from Tuesday’s vote on Friday afternoon. Provisional results have shown the 55-year-old Kenyatta, vying for a second and final five-year term, with a 1.5 million vote lead.
Veteran opposition leader Odinga, 71, says results posted online by the election commission are false. His party declared him the winner on Thursday, based on a secret source within the election commission they declined to identify.
The dispute has raised fears among Kenyans of ethnic and political clashes of the kind triggered by a presidential election in 2007, when 1,200 people were killed.
Kenya is the leading economy in East Africa and stability would be likely to ripple through the region.
Odinga is a member of the Luo, an ethnic group from the west of the country that has long said it is excluded from power. The Kikuyu group has supplied three of four presidents since Kenya gained independence from Britain in 1963.
Odinga ran in – and lost – elections in 2007 and 2013, both of which were marred by irregularities. Both times he alleged fraud. In 2007, he called for street protests while in 2013 he took his complaints to court, quelling potential violence.
International observers on Thursday gave the thumbs-up to this election and Odinga’s next move, should Kenyatta be declared the winner, is not clear. So far, he has not called for protests.
Four people were killed in election-related violence on Wednesday but demonstrations have mostly been brief and isolated as the country waits for official results.
The election commission is nearly finished collecting and posting online official forms signed by party agents from each of the country’s 41,000 polling stations and 290 constituencies.
The paper forms are a back-up system in case candidates call the electronic tallies into question. Odinga has said “most” of those forms posted online are fake, although his party has not yet supplied evidence.
As well as a new president, Kenyans also elected new lawmakers and local representatives. Some of those races have also been disputed.
On Thursday, the main market in the eastern town of Garissa was set on fire when a crowd protesting the result from the governor’s race tried to set a petrol station ablaze.
Trader Ahmed Mohamed said his stall had burned down and two of his workers were injured when groups of men clashed using machetes and stones.