Saturday, 19 August, 2017

Kenya's colorful Maasai vote in tight elections

Uhuru and Ruto praying at the church service Uhuru and Ruto praying at the church service
Saul Franklin | 09 August, 2017, 00:21

The country is braced for widespread unrest whoever wins, after a campaign marred by hundreds of violent incidents - including the murder of a high-profile election official - issues with new voting technology and widespread concerns about fraud.

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

It was revealed that numerous delays were brought about by "adverse weather conditions" that saw a vehicle transporting election materials get stuck in a swamp, before employing the services of a helicopter to complete the task.

"After you cast your ballot, please go home", he said, urging Kenyans to reject a repeat of the post-election violence a decade ago that left more than 1,100 people dead and 600,000 displaced.

"I am encouraged to see the spirit of the Kenyan people every day; the spirit of architects laying the foundation for our nation's future prosperity- across every corner of our country".

Obama said he was disappointed with the campaign so far, which has been marked with a raid on the vice president's country estate, and reports of a rigged vote in favor of Kenyatta.

The others are Raila Odinga from the National Super Alliance and the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee Party of Kenya. In 2013, after Kenyatta again beat Odinga by a narrow margin, Odinga claimed he had been robbed of victory.

The leading candidates have avoided using inflammatory rhetoric that could fuel tensions ahead of the vote, worldwide election observers said.

Kenyatta, who was deputy Prime Minister in the election's aftermath, was at the time also accused of fuelling ethnic violence, a case for which he was summoned to the International Criminal Court, only to have the charges dropped due to a lack of evidence.

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"The Kenyan people as a whole will be the losers if there is a descent into violence", he said. The violence broke down along ethnic lines, with Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe and Odinga's Luo fighting each other in riots and brutal street battles.

The President came to the polling station accompanied by his family including First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and his mother, former First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, and two of his three children.

The two top candidates had already declared they would concede defeat but Uhuru also reiterated this after voting today.

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

If Raila Odinga loses, some say there will be violence in opposition areas - and the police have been kitted out with new deliveries of riot gear.

In Kenyatta's home town Gatundu, north of Nairobi, a voter who identified herself only as Gathoni arrived early to "vote for my favourite president", who will himself cast his ballot at the polling station later in the morning.

The Latest on Kenya's elections to be held on Tuesday.

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki is one of the election's observers.

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