Published: Wed, August 09, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

Thousands of Kenyans flock to vote in high-stakes elections

Thousands of Kenyans flock to vote in high-stakes elections

For this election, Kenya has ushered in a decentralized electronic system that makes it much harder for elections to be rigged.

There were reports from Uganda suggesting that there was an increase of Kenyans fleeing to that country in fear of possible election violence. More than 14,000 candidates are standing in those elections.

Millions of registered voters in Kenya go to polls today in one of the most closely watched elections on the African continent.

Lydia Gathoni, voting in the president's home town of Gatundu, north of Nairobi, said: "I have come here to vote because good leadership comes from God".

Voters will choose between incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and veteran challenger Raila Odinga. He claims elections in 2007 and 2013 were stolen from him. Many Maasai urged peaceful acceptance of the elections results, in contrast to the violence that broke out after the 2007 elections, which killed more than 1,000 people.

The election day is upon Kenyans and many are heading to polling stations to cast their votes in this highly anticipated Tuesday, August 8 election.

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.

Former President Barack Obama, who has largely stayed silent since President Donald Trump took over in January, opted to speak out about the hotly contested presidential election scheduled for Tuesday in Kenya, where voting in recent years has been followed by violence. "But I also know that the Kenyan people as a whole will be the losers if there is a descent into violence".

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They also shared that the fire was bad and strong at about 1:00 A.M. but it started calming down after the next two hours. Hundreds of people, many of whom were evacuated residents, were in the street while crews worked on the scene.

The men belong to two of the country's main ethnic groups, Kenyatta from the Kikuyu, the largest, and Odinga from the Luo.

In the capital Nairobi, voters continue to trickle into the polling stations. The IEBC extended voting hours in the affected areas and deployed helicopters to ferry materials and polling officials to the stations.

They lined up in long queues waiting to cast their ballots in presidential, parliamentary and gubernatorial elections to elect some 1,880 public officials.

The success of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) computerised voting system is key to the process being considered free and fair.

Kenyatta, 55, is seeking his second and final five-year term as his long-time rival, Odinga, 72, is putting up a stiff fight.

In 2013, when he contested the election results, he turned to Kenya's courts.

"Everyone is coming out early and in big numbers because we need change so badly", said Anne-Marie Omondi, a 28-year-old Odinga supporter in Kisumu, an Odinga stronghold in western Kenya swept up in the 2007 unrest.

Hundreds of foreign observers, including former U.S. secretary of state John Kerry and former South African president Thabo Mbeki, as well as delegations from the European Union, are overseeing the election.

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