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In Kenya, a Third of Voters Went to Polls in Second Presidential Election

The crowd directs a police vehicle to leave as they demand the resignation of a local police officer because of police cruelty on the previous day, in Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, Oct. 27, 2017.

Kenya’s election commission says about 6.5 million people, or one-third of the country’s registered voters, went to the polls Thursday for the second presidential election in 2017.

There were opposition protests and violence at a number of polling stations. At least two people were shot dead during clashes between police and protesters.

The vote was incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta’s second attempt at re-election. Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified his victory in an Aug. 8 poll, citing “irregularities and illegalities” in the transmission of results. The voter turnout for the August vote was nearly 80 percent of registered voters.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga withdrew his candidacy earlier this month, arguing the national electoral commission had not made improvements to the voting process. Odinga urged his supporters to boycott the vote, a measure they seemed to have upheld, insuring Kenyatta’s victory.

Odinga issued a statement on the eve of the election pledging that his National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition would transform itself into a “resistance movement.”

An opposition supporter throws a stone at riot police in Kibera Slums in Nairobi, Kenya, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017.
An opposition supporter throws a stone at riot police in Kibera Slums in Nairobi, Kenya, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017.

While most polling stations were peaceful, some were not.

Kenya’s electoral commission chairman, Wafula Chebukati, announced that polling stations unable to open for security concerns would have elections postponed to Saturday.

In the western city of Kisumu, an Odinga stronghold, many polling stations did not open for security concerns, with protesters setting up roadblocks and lighting fires. One man died from gunshot wounds and three others were wounded.

In the Nairobi slums of Kibera and Mathare, police fired tear gas and protesters threw rocks. One man was shot dead in Mathare.

Amnesty International said its researchers witnessed at least 12 young men in Kibera trying to block the entrance to a polling station, with police firing tear gas to disperse them.

And in the Mombasa slum of Bangladesh, youth smeared feces on the walls of a polling station and chased away election workers until order could be restored.