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Voting Peaceful in Kenya's Second City

Voting is under way in Mombasa, Kenya's second city and its main port. As Derek Kilner reports for VOA, the situation has been largely calm, despite delays in the opening of some polling stations.

The normally bustling streets of Mombasa's downtown have turned quiet, with most shops shuttered for Election Day. Activity is concentrated in the lines snaking back from polling stations at primary schools and other government buildings. Crowds of people gather to watch the lines, fingers stained purple to indicate they have already cast their vote.

Samuel Adee, a vendor, says he waited for more than four hours to cast his vote.

"I came here very early in the morning, as from 6:00 a.m. I've just voted, just now. They are very slow, I don't think they will finish up in time," said Adee.

Johnson Munene has also been waiting since 6 am and has almost made it to the front of the line.

"We are ready to wait, even if it is until tomorrow. We have to vote. That is what we have decided. Everybody who is here is ready to vote no matter how long it is going to take," he said.

Munene reserved judgment on whether the vote would end up being fair. Basil Mjomba, an insurance agent, agreed that the process was too slow. Mjomba, who says he voted for Raila Odinga, played down the possibility of rigging.

"No, no, well there were some rumors over the radio that there would be rigging. But from the ground, I think rigging is not possible, because it has several procedures one has to go and then ultimately vote," said Odinga. "So I won't see any rigging coming out."

Odinga has charged the government with attempts to rig the election in recent days. At an incident in Kisumu, Western Kenya, Wednesday, three policeman were killed by crowds protesting alleged rigging efforts.

Shop owner Ashok Vora, waiting in a queue to cast his ballot, says he thinks things will remain largely calm.

"The Kenyan people really love peace, it seems like. Obviously there are some few elements that could create some problems. But majority we can say it's peace. You can see how peacefully the people are waiting over here, no chaos," said Vora.

The latest poll, by the Steadman Group, indicates Raila Odinga leading President Kibaki in Mombasa's strongly Muslim Coast Province by 57 percent to 31 percent.

Rahilu Omar, sitting in a group of women waiting to vote for Odinga, says women are turning out to vote in greater numbers this year. She says she believes Odinga will do more to help women.

"Raila, ODM. We want jobs. We want everything. We've studied hard, but we have no jobs, women. We are sure he will do this," said Omar.

Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement is also leading Kibaki's Party of National Unity in Coast Province. National polls conducted before the vote have also put Odinga ahead, but by a narrow margin. Many say the vote will be too close to call. Results are expected as early as Friday.