High Turnout In Kenya Elections Despite Fear Of Violence

09 August, 2017, 00:31 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • The national tallying centre at Bomas of Kenya. Nairobi County tallying centre is at Kasarani Sports Stadium

Kenyan authorities began counting ballots in a presidential election that's too close to call, with observers focused on how the loser will react to the result.

Incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta is running for a second-five year tenure in office and his major contender is his lifelong opponent, Raila Odinga who is running for president the fourth time.

He managed to rise to prime minister after the 2007 elections but that post has since been abolished.

Obama said he was disappointed with the campaign so far, which has been marked with a raid on the vice president's country estate, and reports of a rigged vote in favor of Kenyatta.

Many Kenyans still vote along ethnic rather than policy lines, but Kenyatta and Odinga have both signalled they are seeking support across the country's many communities. In 2007, the disputed vote escalated in to violence that left at least 1,300 people dead and 600,000 displaced from their homes.

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Shrouded in fears of violence, the vote pits President Uhuru Kenyatta, the 55-year-old businessman son of Kenya's founding president, against Raila Odinga, a 72-year-old former political prisoner and son of Kenya's first vice-president. Long queues could be seen, and video footage at one polling station showed people injured on the ground after an apparent stampede. In the capital Nairobi, the commission said it was replacing some of the elections management system kits, and instructed its officers to manually key in voter ID numbers to confirm registration.

Some polling stations remained open after the 17:00 (14:00 GMT) deadline in areas where heavy rain and other problems had hampered voting.

He said his father would have been proud of what Kenyans had achieved and he urged voters to be peaceful.

Mr Kenyatta belongs to the Kikuyu, Kenya's biggest tribe, who have supplied three out of four of the country's presidents, and whose elite members control much of the economy.

Around 19 million voters, half of whom are under 35, have been registered.

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Nearly 20 million Kenyans have registered to vote to choose candidates for a vast array of positions, from the presidency to county councillors, but all eyes are on the latest battle between the former British colony's two political dynasties.

Kenya's Elections Observation Group (ELOG) said over 8,000 representatives had been deployed to all 47 counties and 290 constituencies in an effort to ensure a fair democratic process. "If we fight, will any of the candidates come to bring us food in our houses?" he said.

Odinga alleged voting irregularities after losing to Kenyatta in the 2013 election and took his case to the Supreme Court, which ruled in Kenyatta's favor by saying the election was valid.

About 5.2 million Kenyans will vote for the first time.

The results are expected to be announced within seven days of polling. "I am willing, myself, to accept the will of the people", he said in a brief statement. Former US secretary of state John Kerry, besides John Mahama and Thabo Mbeki, Ghana and South Africa's former presidents, are among thousands of observers monitoring the elections.

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