Published: Wed, August 09, 2017
World News | By Cecilia Wilkerson

Kenyans take no chances ahead of high-stakes election - Newspaper

Kenyans take no chances ahead of high-stakes election - Newspaper

This time around, a new electronic system commissioned by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will be used to count the votes.

"We want to alert our neighbours that we want peace", said Pastor Obed from Word of Life Harvest, a pentacostal church in Langas.

Reports indicated that a key concern after the polls was whether Kenya would echo its 2013 election, a mostly peaceful affair despite opposition allegations of vote-tampering, or the 2007 election, which led to violence fueled by ethnic divisions that killed more than 1 000 people.

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.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta gave a televised election-eve speech aimed at easing tensions, after a final campaign week marred by rigging accusations levelled by his bitter rival Raila Odinga, and the murder of a top election official.

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"I have come here to vote because good leadership comes from God", Lydia Gathoni Kiingati said. In an election six years earlier, more than 1,200 people died by ethnic violence.

Under the new constitution passed in 2010, a presidential candidate must win a minimum of 25 percent of the votes in at least 24 of the 47 counties to secure the presidency.

Mr Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's first president after independence from British colonial rule, campaigned on a record of major infrastructure projects, many backed by China, and claimed strong economic growth. Nairobi, the capital, has emptied as people have crowded onto buses to their rural homes-some because they are registered to vote there, but many because they fear post-election violence.

The former president warned that the Kenyan people "will be the losers if there is a descent into violence".

Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga also faced off in the 2013 election.

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Polling booths opened before dawn Tuesday morning for the East African nation's 20 million eligible voters to choose between Kenyatta and his longtime rival, opposition leader Raila Odinga, in one of the most closely watched races on the African continent.

"Everyone has a right to vote and we should all be ready to accept the results".

In Kisumu, Odinga's heartland, clerk Stephy Onyango said officials were trained to watch out for the suspicious circulation of babies.

To ensure security, the Inspector General of police Joseph Boinnet said that over 150,000 officers have been deployed across the country to ensure a violent free election process.

Long queues began forming before dawn at over 40.000 polling stations across the country as Kenyans turned out to cast their votes in the closely contested election.

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Before the announcement, factions had been calling for a "day of rage" on Friday, which would probably have fueled the violence. They also called for all mosques in the area to shut down on Friday and direct worshippers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque instead.

Chris Msando was head of information technology for Kenya's Integrated Electoral Management System. A recently instituted gender quota for the country's parliament has also prompted a backlash in the form of widespread violence against women running for office. Talk of "fake news" has flavored the campaign debate as worldwide observers, including former Secretary of State John Kerry, seek to ensure a fair vote.

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