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Voting starts in Kenya's repeat presidential election

October 26, 2017 4:38 AM
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Kenyans have started voting in the country’s repeat presidential election that the main oppositional coalition, the National Super Alliance (Nasa), has boycotted.

Voters, armed with their national identity cards, started streaming into polling stations as early as 5am on Thursday but voting centres officially opened at 6am.

Voting was delayed in some stations due to lack of agents to confirm that ballot boxes were empty, with some presiding officers using voters to make the confirmations.

In most of the affected stations, it was the opposition agents who were missing.

Rains, which have been pounding parts of East African country, also contributed to the delays in voting at some stations.

Security was beefed up in most polling stations located in perceived Nasa strongholds, with lorry-loads of police not taking chances.

The heavy deployment is linked to fears that supporters of Nasa leader Raila Odinga, who pulled out of the repeat election citing refusal of the electoral commission to effect his suggested reforms, may attack stations.

Mr Odinga has since asked his supporters to keep off polling stations and streets, where they have protesting, after declaring that Nasa is no longer a political coalition but "a resistance movement".

Voting in the six coast counties started on a low note, with fewer residents showing up at polling stations at 6am as compared to a similar time on August 8.

Although the residents in the predominantly Muslim region flocked mosques for prayers at 5am, most seemed not interested in voting.

Kilifi, Mombasa, Lamu and Taita Taveta counties recorded low turnout at the start of the poll that was ordered by the Supreme Court on September 1.

Hundreds had showed up to vote in most stations an hour into the voting on August 8 during Kenya's General Election, whose presidential poll was quashed by the country's apex court.

Some polling stations in Tana River had a "good" number of people waiting to vote by 6am, according to presiding officers.

The weather was favourable in most parts of the Coast in the early morning despite the heavy rains that have been pounding the region.

Security was heightened in most of the polling stations, with police looking out for any troublemakers.

In Mombasa, a perceived Nasa stronghold, it appeared most of the residents heeded their leaders' calls not to vote.

Only a few people were seen in most polling stations by 7am, with some centres not receiving a single voter, an hour into the voting.

In Mvita Constituency, which has the second-highest number of registered voters in the county after Kisauni, most voters had not turned up to participate in the exercise.

At Mombasa Inspectorate polling station, for instance, only four people turned out to vote by voter compared to the hundreds who had showed up by 6am on August 8.

At Star of the Sea Primary School polling centre, only about 15 people were seen at the centre by 7am.

In Likoni constituency, most of the stations were deserted an hour into the voting.

At President Kenyatta’s polling centre Mutomo Primary School in Gatundu, Kiambu County, a few voters were present at the start of poll, a situation attributed to heavy rains and chilly weather.

By 6.20am, only a handful of voters had turned up in most polling centres in the area, compared to massive turnout witnessed on August 8.

But poll officials were optimistic residents would show up later once the rains subside and the weather becomes warmer.

Mr Kenyatta enjoys a fanatical following in Kiambu and most counties in the Mount Kenya region.

The start of voting in most polling stations in Kakamega County was marked by a low turnout. Polling stations opened at 6am, with a handful of voters trickling in to cast their ballots.

Kakamega streets remained largely deserted with tight security being maintained at polling stations.

In Meru County, most polling stations opened at 6am, with few voters braving the early morning rains.

At St Mary's Immaculate polling centre in Imenti Central, only 10 voters had arrived when polling stations opened.

Mr Raymond Mutwiri, the presiding officer at Gitune Coffee Factory in South Imenti, said only 19 voters had voted by 7am.

In Wajir County, voting in some centres started late with only two voters arriving at Wajir High School polling station by 7am.

County returning officer Patrick Gatuma said voting materials were yet to arrive in some polling stations in Wajir South and Wajir West due to the heavy rains on Wednesday night in parts of the county.

A spot check by the Nation showed that fewer people turned out to vote compared to August 8.

In Isiolo, very few voters came out early to vote despite polling stations opening in time.

Mr Abdul Bahari Ali Jillo, who was a governor candidate in Isiolo in the August election, voted at Wabera Primary School polling station.

Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo cast her ballot and said the voting was peaceful.

Voting started slowly in the North Rift as few voters turned up early in the morning to cast their ballots.

There was not much enthusiasm in most polling stations unlike in the August 8 elections.

Some of the voters who turned up early said they were only interested in exercising their democratic rights.

In Eldoret town, shorter queues were witnessed at MV Patel Memorial Hall polling station, normally one the busiest during elections, as early as 6am.

Deputy President William Ruto is expected to vote at Kosachei Primary School in Turbo Constituency in Uasin Gishu later today.

In Trans Nzoia, an IEBC tent was brought down by unknown people last night at Matisi Cattle Dip Polling station, delaying voting.

Election officials were forced to put it up early in the morning before voting started.

In Bungoma, most polling stations were empty at 6am but as at 8am a handful of voters were seen reporting to cast their ballots.

In Narok North constituency, voting in urban areas kicked off well while in some rural areas they did not begin in time, especially in areas considered Nasa zones in which voters were yet to turn up by 7.30am.

Heavy rains in the highland areas of Mau Narok delayed the arrival of voting material on Wednesday night.

In Naivasha, long queues were seen in most polling stations with voters braving early morning showers to cast their ballots.

As early as 4am, motorcycle operators were blowing vuvuzelas and hooting in the estates as they mobilised residents to vote.

In Nakuru, long queues were seen in most polling stations. However, the turnout in Kaptembwa ward was extremely low, with most stations almost deserted.

In Nyandarua, some stations had fewer voters early in the morning compared to the last election, while others had long queues.

But the excitement witnessed during the August 8 election was not witnessed in Thursday’s repeat poll.

Several businesses were also open and already operating as traders said they would vote later. In August, most businesses were closed in the morning on voting day.

A number of polling stations in Laikipia West constituency had few voters in the early hours.


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