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Kenya Election 2017: Voters Go to Polls in Hotly Contested Campaign
Local Editor

Long queues are forming in Kenya as voters wait to cast their ballots in a hotly contested election that pits incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta against the nation's former prime minister.

Kenyan voters

"I have been here for around two hours," one man standing in line at a polling booth in Busia County on the border with Uganda told CNN affiliate NTV. "I came at six in the morning to exercise my democratic right and bring change to this country."

Raila Odinga, who's running for president for the fourth time, served as prime minister between 2008 and 2013. As the candidate for the National Super Alliance party, he is one of eight presidential candidates and the incumbent's main challenger.

Kenyatta, who leads the Jubilee Alliance and is seeking a second five-year term, is the nation's youngest president at 55. If he loses, he'll make history as the only incumbent Kenyan president not to win re-election.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission [IEBC] spokesman Andrew Limo said turnout "looks huge" so far and as votes are cast at the more than 40,000 polling stations.

Limo acknowledged claims of malfunctioning voting machines, which have circulated online, saying there have been "three or four cases of malfunction where the system needed restarting" but added that for the most part things have "gone well."

"Little glitches here and there will be fixed as they occur," he said.

The two top contenders are from political dynasties that date back decades.

Both candidates had campaigned largely on promises of improving the economy and fighting corruption, a major issue in the government.

Kenya's last election in 2013 was mainly peaceful, but a decade ago, the country plunged into widespread violence in the aftermath of the 2007 vote.

More than 1,000 people were killed in months of bloodshed following the 2007 election after Odinga -- defeated by the then-President Mwai Kibaki -- claimed the vote was rigged.

Opposing protesters loyal to each leader took to the streets, and protests escalated into bloody violence, fueled by decades of economic frustration and ethnic rivalry.

The killing of a senior election official days before the election sparked tensions last week. Chris Msando was head of information technology for Kenya's Integrated Electoral Management System. While his department was responsible for voter identification and result transmission technology for the elections, it's unclear whether his killing was related to the election.

Leading up to the poll, wary residents stocked up on food and water amid fears of a return to violence. But others expressed hope the election will be peaceful.

"We learned our lesson in 2007 on how easy it is to tear our nation apart," said Jane Wambugu, who lives in Nairobi. "I've bought enough food supplies for two weeks -- flour, sugar, beans, everything. But I hope to God I won't need them."

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

08-08-2017 | 12:06


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