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Presidential Contender Kibaki Votes in Kenya - 2002-12-27

Kenya's leading presidential contender, Mwai Kibaki, of the opposition National Rainbow Coalition, cast his vote in his home district Friday morning.

Hundreds of enthusiastic supporters rushed forward and crowded around Mr. Kibaki's car when he arrived to cast his vote at Munaini polling station in Othaya constituency at 11 o'clock Friday morning.

Mr. Kibaki did not get out of the car. He has been unable to walk since he broke his ankle in a serious car accident earlier this month. He was also wearing a neck brace.

Security officers spent almost half an hour jostling with the crowd as Mr. Kibaki waited, sitting in the back seat of the Mercedes Benz with his wife.

An officer from the Electoral Commission of Kenya explained how Mr Kibaki would vote from his car. "We shall bring the three ballot papers presidential, parliamentary and civic," said the officer. "We bring them to Mr. Kibaki. Then he marks."

Amid much confusion and jostling, the three ballot boxes were then carried out of the polling station to the side of Mr. Kibaki's car for him to cast his votes.

Mr. Kibaki did not speak, but his wife, Lucy, expressed confidence that her husband will win the election and become Kenya's third president. "He is in a very jovial mood because he has the same feeling, like the rest of us, that NARC started winning six o'clock in the morning," she said.

After voting, Mr. Kibaki immediately set off for Nairobi, some 170 kilometers south, to monitor the progress of the elections.

Mr. Kibaki has been the Member of Parliament for Othaya constituency since 1974. It is considered a safe seat.

There is a celebratory mood in Othaya, reflecting a widespread sense of confidence that Mr. Kibaki will be Kenya's next president.

As dusk fell on Thursday evening, hundreds of supporters, waving posters of Mr. Kibaki, lined the town's main street hoping to catch a glimpse of him on his way home.

Owners say the local bars have been full for the last three days, as Othaya residents celebrate what they hope will be the ushering in of a new era for Kenya.