Incumbent President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta

Kenyan poll holds amidst low turnout, violence

 

Re-run of presidential election today in Kenya was marred by low turnout of voters. But the turnout was not surprising. The major opposition figure in the country, Raila Odinga, had boycotted the election and called on his supporters to stay away from the polls.

Reports say there were pockets of violence in Kenya and that some persons have been feared death in the attacks.

Questions have already been raised about the legitimacy of Thursday’s election in east Africa’s dominant democracy.

Financial Times reports that Diplomats from the US, EU, Canada, Australia and several European countries issued a statement late on Wednesday expressing their concerns. “We are deeply disappointed by the continuing efforts of both parties to interfere with and undermine the independent operation of the electoral commission, the judiciary and other essential institutions,” they said.

“Kenya is at risk of losing much of what it has gained since 2008 unless it comes together at this crucial moment to preserve its democracy and fundamental freedoms.”

But Kenyatta who is obviously having upper hand Mr Kenyatta on Thursday rejected suggestions Kenya’s democracy was being undermined. “Kenya is proving that our democracy is maturing,” he said after voting.

“We’re tired of electioneering as a country. It’s time to move forward. ”Unlike in August, when people waited through the night to vote, there were no queues at most polling stations in the capital Nairobi before polls opened at 6am.

“Raila’s supporters are staying away and Uhuru’s are probably going to wait until daylight to make sure it’s safe,” said Willis Muriu, an official observer at the Kilimani primary school.

“Once it’s bright I’m sure they’ll come.” By early afternoon voting had yet to start in several of Mr Odinga’s heartlands in western Kenya, such as Siaya, Migori, Homa Bay and many districts of the city of Kisumu. Supporters in the city clashed with police, who responded with live ammunition, tear gas and water canon. At least one protester was shot dead and three injured in the Kisumu clashes.

Financial Times reports that in parts of Nairobi, such as the Kibera and Mathare slums, some polling stations opened several hours late and only after police had fought running battles with protesters seeking to stop the voting because they believe Mr Kenyatta is undermining democracy.

 “We’re fighting for our rights, we don’t want this election to be going on because it’s not free and fair,” said a demonstrator in Kibera who gave his name as Nelson Mandela.

“He and a dozen others were building a barricade to block access to a polling station. Turnout was predictably high in Mr Kenyatta’s strongholds, such as Kiambu, his home county just north of Nairobi. “We’re here today because of Raila Odinga,” said James Ndegwa, an electrician who had just voted at the Kiambu town municipal office”, reports the Financial Times. 

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