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

Tuesday, 08 Aug, 2017

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Former US President Barack Obama called for calm in Tuesday's general elections in Kenya, where there are concerns over a possible resurgence of violence stemming from political and ethnic tensions.

There is a lot of uncertainty about what will happen, but most Kenyans hope the country can get through this week peacefully and move on. "We are praying. I am praying for peace", she said.

"Kenyatta has done a tremendous job, he has improved communications, built roads and other infrastructure, he has to keep the job", said Sashikat Bhaga, 68, in the Nairobi suburb of Parklands, home to many Kenyans of Indian or Pakistani origin. He was accompanied by his wife, Margaret, his mother and two of his three children. His father was the country's first vice president, serving under Jomo Kenyatta.

Raila Odinga, the main opposition challenger in Kenya's tightly-contested election, has voted.

He urged supporters to gather on Wednesday in a central park for what he predicted would be a celebration.

On the eve of the elections, President Kenyatta gave a nationally televised address.

He is making it sound amusing and hypothetical when he is claiming that Kenya is on the right track when the debt of the Kenyan government is now over 3.9 or nealy 4 trillion Kenyan Shillings.Remember that When Kibaki and Raila Odinga were in the coalition government major infrastructure were seen in this Country like never before and the borrowing was very minimal.

"We see it as a deliberate attempt to do some monkey business", Mr Odinga said.

"There is concern over voter registration where people who corrected mistakes of their details can not find their names on the list. I pay my yearly licensing fees online", she said.

Kenyans are casting their votes to elect a president and a new parliament following weeks of campaigning and claims of a plot to rig the results.

Opinion polls before Tuesday's presidential election put the pair neck-and-neck. Many of Nairobi's informal settlements, which are known for their ethnic diversity, began to empty as Kenyans took buses to their tribal homelands where they feel safe.

There are more than 19 million registered voters in the nation of 48 million.

Raila Odinga, who's running for president for the fourth time, served as prime minister between 2008 and 2013.

"I came here at 1 in the morning even though the voting starts at 6. I want to vote because I believe God has kept me alive for so many years", said Gathoni.

To win the election outright, either presidential candidate must garner at least 50 percent of the votes, plus one.

The two top contenders are from political dynasties that date back decades. In 2013, after Kenyatta again beat Odinga by a narrow margin, Odinga claimed he had been robbed of victory. In some parts of the country, voters lined up outside polling stations at 3am, hours before booths officially opened.

Kanimba said that Rwanda was confident that the exercise would be smooth.

John Odundu, 40 and walking with a crutch, turned up to vote with his six-year-old daughter, Immaculate, dressed in a hot pink parka.

At the polling station in Kibera, Fatuma Rehan Juma, 58, had just finished voting.

Early voters went to the polls across the country at sunrise.

Former US president Barack Obama led worldwide calls for peace Monday ahead of Kenyan elections seen as too close to call, with fears that violence could flare in east Africa's richest economy.

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

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

Kenya has almost 20 million registered voters.