News Worms
News Worms

Kenya's female voters could sway the presidential election

Kenya's female voters could sway the presidential election

Kenya's electoral commission is using biometric voter identification and electronic vote transmission systems to conduct the elections.

The final days of campaigning have been marred by the murder and torture of a top election official, opposition claims that one of its vote tallying centres was raided by police and a feverish atmosphere of conspiracy and suspicion.

Unusual things always happen before Kenyan elections - and this year is no exception. The election aftermath turned violent, with fighting mostly along tribal lines, amid allegations of vote-rigging.

Tuesday's elections took place a decade after a shambolic 2007 vote - which foreign observers agreed was riddled with irregularities - sparked violence which left more than 1,100 people dead and 600,000 displaced.

But with opinion polls predicting a very close race between incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga, there are fears there could be trouble ahead. "I am willing myself to accept the will of the people, so let them too", he said as he voted at the Mutomo Primary School in Gatundu, his home turf.

Odinga was also a candidate in the 2007 election, which was followed by deadly violence fueled by ethnic rivalries.

While in Rwanda there was little doubt that incumbent president Paul Kagame, would once again sweep the election, Kenya's elections appear to be much more competitive.

Kenyatta, 55, is seeking re-election after a first term in which he oversaw a massive infrastructure drive and steady economic growth of more than 5 per cent.

Heavily booked buses are ferrying Kenyans back to their hometowns, for some in order to vote where they are registered, but for others it is due to fears of post-election violence in the areas where they live.

Mr Odinga is associated with the ethnic Luo voting bloc, which has never produced a head of state. "I say peace because Kenya was here before and it will be here after today".

Down at Nairobi's Machakos bus station, transport bosses have more than doubled fares on some routes, but that hasn't stopped a surge in customers who line up before dawn each morning for a bus to Kenya's west where Odinga is strongest.

CIVICUS claimed that in the lead up to the Tuesday polls, human rights activists and journalist were intimidated, attacked, and vilified when they sought access to the voter registration stations, polling booths and report on political campaigns. He said that Kenya needs to live up to its "remarkable potential" as a nation, and that this election is a "milestone" for the country.

More than 150 000 members of the security forces - including wildlife, prison and forestry officers - have been deployed for polling day.

The election commission has said about 25 percent of polling stations won't have network coverage, meaning officials will have to move to find a better signal and transmit results by satellite telephones.

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is among worldwide observers who will be monitoring the election.


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