Uhuru Kenyatta has opened an early lead as Kenya continues the count in a presidential election that brought out millions of voters.

Kenyans, who waited patiently in long lines, hope the vote will restore the nation's image as one of Africa's more stable democracies.

More than 1,200 people were killed when the result of the 2007 vote was disputed by rivals.

Pockets of violence yesterday left at least 15 people dead.

Early tallies from this week's broadly peaceful vote gave an edge to Mr Kenyatta.

The 51-year-old deputy prime minister is leading over rival Prime Minister Raila Odinga, 68, by 53% to 42% with about half the votes counted.

Election officials had said turnout was more than 70% of the 14.3m eligible voters, but have not given a precise total.

The US and Western donors have watched the vote closely, concerned about the stability of a nation seen as a regional ally in the fight against militant Islam.

They also worry about what to do if Mr Kenyatta wins.

Mr Kenyatta faces charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) related to the violence five years ago.

For an outright victory, a candidate needs more than 50% of votes cast. Otherwise the top two face a run-off, provisionally set for April.

Mr Odinga may be facing his last crack at the presidency after narrowly missing out in 2007 to now-outgoing President Mwai Kibaki.

Losing to Mr Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's first president after independence, would mark another defeat in the family's ambitions after Mr Odinga's father also failed to secure the top post.

Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta ran neck-and-neck in polls before the 2013 race, well ahead of six other rivals.