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Campaign Ends Ahead of Kenya’s Election

Campaigns officially ended Monday ahead of Kenya’s general elections on Thursday. The election pits incumbent President Mwai Kibaki, who is seeking a second term, against opposition candidates Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and Kalonzo Musyoka of the Orange Democratic Movement- Kenya (ODM- Kenya). Recent polls suggest leading opposition candidate Odinga ahead of incumbent President Kibaki, while Musyoka trails the pack at a distant third.

Some political observers are expressing worry about reported incidence of violence, but have hailed all of the presidential candidates for appealing for calm in their closing messages. Meanwhile the electoral commission says it is ready for Thursday’s vote. From the capital Nairobi, political analyst Michael Tiampati tells reporter Peter Clottey all seems to be set for the polling to begin on Thursday.

“The campaigns for this year’s elections officially ended Monday with two parallel rallies organized by both the incumbent and the opposition led by Raila Odinga that were held in Nairobi. This marks the end of what is being commonly called the final submission, where the two presidential campaigners pit their last campaigns and they are now sitting ducks and seeking votes in a silent way. But according to the law, they are not supposed to hold any public campaigns in terms of looking for votes. So today, two final campaigns were held in the city. Both were really dramatic in terms of the turnout,” he noted.

Tiampati said the electoral commission has been expressing its readiness ahead of Thursday’s elections.

“The electoral commission has been issuing statements of late. They’ve been doing media briefings, highlighting issues that are emerging, especially, on the accusations of impending kind of vote rigging, especially from the ODM. The ODM has actually come out with several accusations against the government. They think that government is working on plans to steal the votes. And as late as yesterday, the electoral commission officers were actually in the media saying that they were prepared. They are ready to handle the elections,” Tiampati pointed out.

He reckons that Kenyans are eager to go out in their numbers to cast their ballots in Thursday’s elections.

“The enthusiasm is pretty high. On the one hand there are those Kenyans that feel that this is the time for change, and on the other hand there are those Kenyans that feel that they should give the current president a second and final term,” he opined.