Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Are you voting in Kenya's presidential election?

Former president Mahama plays peacemaker in Kenya prior to hotly contested elections Former president Mahama preaches peace in Kenya
Ellis Copeland | 08 August, 2017, 09:36

Kenya's last election in 2013 was mainly peaceful, but a decade ago, the country plunged into widespread violence in the aftermath of the 2007 vote.

The torture and killing in late July of Christopher Msando, an official in charge of Kenya's electronic voting system, has fueled concerns that the balloting could be rigged.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama has called on Kenyans to remain calm and reject tribalism as they prepare to vote in elections on Tuesday that have raised fears of violence.

The appeal from the former USA president came as Kenyans headed to the polls this morning to cast their votes to elect a new president and a Parliament in a hotly contested election that pits incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta against former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the media reported.

A woman casts her vote at a polling station during the presidential election in Kenya. "It seems nearly inevitable that whoever loses will question the result. The question is not whether or not they will accept the result but what they will do when they don´t accept it", said Nic Cheeseman, professor of African politics at Birmingham University in England.

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Obama, whose father was Kenyan, urged the nation's leaders to reject violence, while calling on security forces to act professionally and for the sides to "work together no matter the outcome". Young people between ages 18 and 35 make up 51% of the country's 19.6 million registered voters.

In a speech ahead of Tuesday's vote, Kenyatta urged the citizens to "please go back home" after casting their vote, reports BBC. Based on our consultations with Kenyan stakeholders over the past weeks, we note efforts made towards the conduct of peaceful, transparent and credible elections so that Kenyans can express their will freely. Half are aged under 35.

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.

Odinga's key support is in the west and along the coast, with Kenyatta's strongholds in central Kenya and the Rift Valley. Both have secured formidable alliances with other influential communities in a country where voting takes place largely along tribal lines.

The 72-year-old Odinga at the head of the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition, is taking his fourth - and what many suspect will be his last - stab at the presidency. However he is also criticised for soaring food prices -with prices jumping 20 percent year-on-year in May - and massive corruption scandals on his watch.

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