Kenya elections: Counting underway in `most important` polls

Officials begun counting the votes on Monday after a large number of people voted in the first general elections that are being held under the new Constitution which was approved in 2010.

Updated: Mar 05, 2013, 00:45 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Nairobi: Officials have started to count the votes on Monday after a large number of people voted in the first general elections here that are being held under the new Constitution which was approved in 2010, as per BBC reports.

Earlier in the day, Kenyans queued up in long lines to cast their votes in what is being deemed as the "most important` election in country`s history.

Polls were closed at around 17:00 (14:00 GMT) but officials said those in queues at that time would be allowed to vote, BBC reported.

These are the first general elections under the new Constitution which was approved in 2010.

The administration is closely monitoring the elections and security has been stepped up to prevent a repeat of 2007 polls violence in which 1,100 people were killed when supporters of rival parties clashed.

Incident of violence was reported from Mombasa in which at least 4 policemen were feared dead. The police have issued warning that criminals posing in police uniforms might disrupt voting.

In addition, intelligence on the Somali-Kenya border indicated Somali militants planned to launch attacks; a secessionist group on the coast threatened — and perhaps already carried out — attacks; the tribes of the top two presidential candidates have a long history of tense relations; and 47 new governor races are being held, increasing the chances of electoral problems at the local level.

The Financial Times in a story on Saturday quoted Prime Minister Raila Odinga — one of the two top presidential candidates — as saying he knows his opponents are planning to rig the vote and "I have warned them the consequences may be worse than last time round. The people will not stomach another rigging."

Odinga denied making the statement and told a stadium full of supporters that the story was a "total fabrication." He said his campaign would petition the courts if it felt the results were problematic. An earlier statement said Odinga felt "absolutely slandered" and included a quote it said Odinga gave the paper:

"I am aware that my opponents are scaring my supporters so that they can migrate from where they registered in order to cut the spread of my vote. It is a form of rigging and Kenyans will not accept it. ... I will still win this election despite this dirty campaign."
The Financial Times did not release an audio recording of the interview.
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta — Odinga`s top challenger — called Odinga`s words "dangerous and inflammatory" and he called on Odinga to retract them.

"We have in public, and our words and deeds throughout this election — all of us presidential candidates — committed to campaign in this election in peace, and just as importantly, to accept the result in peace," Kenyatta said. "So then why is it that at the most delicate time in the election campaign Raila sought to use such dangerous, inflammatory words?"

Rigging and cheating are a part of Kenyan elections, though international observers say they believe an improved electoral system will make wide-spread cheating harder this time. Many Odinga supporters believe that President Mwai Kibaki stole the vote from Odinga in 2007, a belief that propelled the violence.

Kenyatta and his running mate — William Ruto — both face charges at the International Criminal Court over allegations they orchestrated the 2007-08 violence. If Kenyatta wins, he may be forced to spend much of presidency before The Hague-based court.