World

Kenyans head to the polls amid tightened security

Kenyans head to the polls amid tightened security

"We shall only accept the defeat if the election meets global standards", he said at Makhele primary in Kabuchai constituency.

A run-off is possible but seen as unlikely by pollsters, with six other, little-known presidential candidates garnering barely one percent of the vote between them.

A key concern is whether Kenya will 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.

The youth vote is highly coveted - young people between the ages of 18 and 35 make up 51% of the country's registered voters.

Voters are heading to the polls in what promises to be a very close race between incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Mr Kenyatta, voting in his birthplace of Gatundu, north of Nairobi, said: "I feel good". In 2013, after Kenyatta again beat Odinga by a narrow margin, Odinga claimed he had been robbed of victory.

There were still some problems with the vote, he said: delays, some agents being denied entry to polling stations, names missing from the register, and the failure of some electronic voter identification devices.

Nearly 20 million Kenyans have registered to vote to choose candidates for a vast array of positions, from the presidency to county councillors, but all eyes are on the latest battle between the former British colony's two political dynasties.

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Nervous Kenyans stockpiled food and water yesterday and police prepared emergency first aid kits as families headed to their ethnic heartlands on the eve of an election many fear could descend into violence.

"What am I supposed to do?" said Catherine Okello, frustrated by a hotline text message telling her to go to the nearest election commission office to sort out the problem. Kenyatta is widely seen as the candidate of the Kikuyu people, the country's largest ethnic group.

Alfred Nganga, a press liaison for Nakumatt, Kenya's largest supermarket chain, said the volume of customers Monday was the largest in recent weeks.

NASA's Raila Odinga and incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta are the two main presidential candidates to watch among 7 vying for the top seat.

Kenya has almost 20 million registered voters out of a population of more than 40 million. The disabled and the old have also been moved to voting centres around the country to cast their votes. Kenyan officials have deployed about 180,000 security officers nationwide to ensure safety.

Polling station officials count the ballots at a polling station in Archers Post, Samburu County. It was still early, he said, but what has been tricky historically in Kenya is the counting.

Stooped but determined, a 102-year-old woman believed to be one of Kenya's oldest citizens cast her ballot in national elections on Tuesday. 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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