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Kenyans Go to Polls to Elect Leader


Kenyans today will vote in general elections that could produce a new president for the country. The elections, which begin this morning pit incumbent President Mwai Kibkai against leading opposition presidential hopefuls Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and Kalonzo Musyoka of the Orange Democratic Movement- Kenya (ODM-Kenya). Odinga is angling to give incumbent President Kibaki a stiff challenge in today’s polls.

Meanwhile, the electoral commission says it is ready for the election to take off this morning, while counting of the ballots follows after the vote ends at 5 p.m. local time. Results are expected to start trickling tomorrow. From the capital, Nairobi news anchor Basette Buyuka of Kenya’s independent Nation's Television station tells reporter Peter Clottey tension is building ahead of today’s vote.

“The electoral commission says it is absolutely ready. The ECK (Electoral Commission of Kenya) chairman Samuel Kivuiti is saying all his various officials on the ground and in the provinces are all set for the big day, and election materials have been given out to all parts of the country; ballot papers, ballot boxes, the indelible ink, elections materials like lamps and all the stationery that the officials would be needing in their various constituencies,” Buyuka pointed out.

He said expectations are high for a massive voter turnout.

“Remember, 14. 2 million voters registered and are eligible to take part in this poll. How many will turn up? Well, we will wait and see as the day unfolds,” he said.

Buyuka said the opposition pointing accusing fingers, charging that the government plans to rig the elections.

“Well, it’s been tense, especially yesterday. There were incidents where voters and residents of various parts of the country were involved in situations where they thought marked ballot boxes were being transported and there were incidences in the west of the country in Eldoret where a bus was stopped and searched and ransacked. There was also some incidence in Mombassa down at the coast. But by and large, really nothing tangible has come out of all these. People are acting on hunches and say-so, but nothing tangible to prove of the theory that that some rigging plans are in the works,” Buyuka suggested.

He said people suspected of being accomplices of government to rig the elections are being attacked because of the heightened tensions.

“The stakes are high in this election and the atmosphere is charged, and in some parts of the country even more so than others. That is why you find this kind of situation where administration policemen are being targets of irate mobs who believe that they have been transported there for a specific mission. Of course nothing again is clear to suggest that because the police and indeed the government spokesman Alfred Mutua have been very clear that these movements are normal,” he noted.

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