Kenyans started casting their votes Tuesday in an exercise characterized by long queues. Voting started at 6 am in most polling stations where voters started trooping in as early as 3 am.
Kenyans are voting in the country’s sixth election since the re-introduction of multi-party politics in 1992.
Here are some key facts as voters go to the polls today:
- People are voting in six elections from the president down to county assembly member.
- There are eight presidential candidates with incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga considered to be the front-runners.
- To win the presidential election in the first round, a candidate needs 50% plus one of all the votes cast.
- Overall, there are more than 14,000 candidates running across the six elections.
- Over 45% of the registered voters are under 35.
- An estimated 180,000 police officers will be on duty across the country to help keep the peace.
Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta is ahead by a whisker in the most recent opinion poll. His main challenger, Raila Odinga, has repeatedly alleged that Kenyatta plans to rig the elections.
Kenya has an unhappy history of violence, and of alleged election rigging, and the recent gruesome murder of a key official at the electoral commission has heightened anxiety. Some fear that – whatever the electoral laws say – no holds are barred in Kenyan politics.
That history of electoral problems is interwoven with a dynastic political drama that goes back more than 50 years. Jomo Kenyatta and Oginga Odinga were political allies turned enemies in the 1960s; now their sons continue the rivalry.
Hate speech flyers and rhetorical text messages have been circulating, making Kenyans nervous. Some are stockpiling food and water while police have prepared emergency first aid kits. Some families have traveled from the capital, Nairobi, to their ethnic heartlands over fears of violence.
Author: Staff Writer