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Kenya on a knife edge ahead of high-stakes elections

09 August 2017

This year, a new biometric identification system was set up that requires voters to verify their identity and registration using a fingerprint reader that often needs several tries before it works.

Though the 2013 elections were largely peaceful, pre-election jitters have seen foreigners and Kenyans leaving the country or main cities and stocking up food items in case of trouble.

People are voting in Kenya's general election amid fears that the result could trigger communal violence.

"I have come here to vote because good leadership comes from God", Lydia Gathoni Kiingati said.

Were Odinga to win, it would upend the political dominance of the Kikuyu ethnic group, which has supplied three of Kenya's four presidents since independence from Britain in 1963.

He managed to rise to prime minister after the 2007 elections but that post has since been abolished.

The last election in 2007 was marred with violence with more than 1,100 deaths and 600,000 others were displaced.

The election day is upon Kenyans and many are heading to polling stations to cast their votes in this highly anticipated Tuesday, August 8 election.

The victor of the presidential race must get more than 50 percent of the votes as well as one-quarter or more votes in at least 24 of Kenya's 47 counties, according to officials.

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Incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya's first president Jomo Kenyatta, is in a neck-and-neck race with Mr Odinga.

Kenyan police said al-Shabab, extremist rebels from neighboring Somalia, are suspected of planting a roadside bomb that injured two people Monday and destroying the power pylon that caused the blackout in Lamu County. While there has been reports of glitches at some of the polling units which numbers about 40,000 or more across Kenya, Limo says for most part, things have gone well.

Voters formed long lines at many polling stations before dawn, waiting to cast ballots in the tightly contested race for the presidency as well as for more than 1,800 elected positions, including governors, legislative representatives and county officials.

Shrouded in fears of violence, the vote pits President Uhuru Kenyatta, the 55-year-old businessman son of Kenya's founding president, against Raila Odinga, a 72-year-old former political prisoner and son of Kenya's first vice-president.

Odinga told the European Parliamentarians observing the elections that his party, the National Super Alliance (NASA) was concerned about the integrity of the voters register, the reference point for tomorrow's vote.

The election is organized by Kenya's Independent Electoral And Boundaries Commission.

Polling staff will be accompanied by security officials and polling stations will be heavily guarded to enable voters to exercise their democratic rights, said electoral commission CEO Ezra Chiloba.

Former US Secretary of State John Kerry is among thousands of observers who are monitoring the election.

"I voted Raila, because he will be so much better to us".

Kenya on a knife edge ahead of high-stakes elections