Five things to know about Kenya's election

Casey Dawson
August 9, 2017

On Tuesday Kenyans will cast ballots in six different elections, choosing governors, lawmakers, senators, county officials and women's representatives in local races also rife with tension.

This is one of Kenya's most divisive elections in recent memory.

"I feel good. I feel positive because we ran a positive campaign", Kenyatta said after casting his vote.

With many people still waiting, some centres remained open beyond the official end of voting to ensure people in the queue could cast their ballots.

Tuesday's elections are taking place a decade after a shambolic vote - which foreign observers agreed was riddled with irregularities - sparked violence which left more than 1 100 people dead and 600 000 displaced. This time, with a more mature voting system, the opposition - Odinga, his tribe and his allies - would finally rise to power. Odinga, who has never won the presidency, has said this is his fourth and final bid and Kenyatta is constitutionally bound to two terms.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga, 72, who lost elections in 2007 and 2013, has already said President Uhuru Kenyatta, 55, can only win if his ruling Jubilee party rigs the vote, a stance that increases the chances of a disputed result and unrest.

Queues at the polling station formed very early in the morning, with voters arriving at 2 some.

"Every mother who is coming with a kid, we mark the mother and also the kid", said Tabitha Muigai, the presiding officer at a polling station in central Nairobi's Starehe constituency.

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He was schooled in East Germany under communism and has joined calls for land reforms that could drive white Kenyans out of the lands they own, especially in the north of the country, but has largely focused on insisting that if he loses it will be as a result of rigging.

Around 19 million voters, half of whom are under 35, have been registered.

Election officials say the victor of Kenya's presidential race must get more than 50% of the votes as well as one-quarter or more votes in at least 24 of Kenya's 47 counties.

This year more than 150,000 security forces personnel have been deployed.

Odinga said he hoped the best candidate would win and he hoped he would be well-placed to win.

If the front-runner falls short of those benchmarks, the two top contenders will contest a run-off vote. However, some Kenyans are anxious by memories of the violent months that followed the 2007 vote and say there could be trouble ahead.

For this election, Kenya has ushered in a decentralized electronic system that makes it much harder for elections to be rigged. Kenyans over 18 years old are eligible to vote and about 5.2 millions will vote for the first time, according to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). Maraga spoke after meeting former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is among global observers who will be monitoring the election.

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