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Kenyans count votes in tight race

  • Story Highlights
  • Votes still coming in from the provinces in the country's tight presidential race
  • Despite fears of violence, voting has been calm so far
  • Contest pits President Mwai Kibaki against his former ally Raila Odinga
  • A peaceful election is vital for Kenya, a stable country in a volatile region
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NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Kenyan election officials were counting votes Friday as results continued to trickle in from the provinces in the country's tight presidential and legislative race.

The Electoral Commission of Kenya said it expected to have final results from Thursday's vote by 8 a.m. Saturday (midnight ET Friday).

There had been fears that tension surrounding the close race would spark violence, but by midday Friday, there were no reports of any incidents and the country remained calm.

President Mwai Kibaki was facing a serious challenge from opposition leader Raila Odinga, a flamboyant politician who for weeks has accused his rival of corruption. They are allegations Kibaki has faced since soon after he came to power five years ago.

While many Kenyans say they are tired of the accusations and are hungry for change, many others credit Kibaki with keeping the country's economy strong.

Many others, however, don't feel they have benefited from the economic boom. Odinga has openly appealed to them to vote out the incumbent so they can share the wealth.

A peaceful election and a smooth transition of power are seen as crucial for Kenya, a stable country in an otherwise-volatile region.

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Odinga initially had trouble casting his ballot in his constituency Friday. His representatives said the problem was that Odinga had initially gone to a general voters' line; when he returned later in the day, he was taken to a VIP room where he was allowed to vote.

Voters were also choosing members of parliament and civic leaders. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's David McKenzie contributed to this report

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