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Poll peaceful save for some Nasa regions

The fresh presidential election was largely successful with voting recorded as taking place in 43 counties, with only four in Nyanza failing to register any voting, according to the electoral commission.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman (IEBC) Wafula Chebukati yesterday said 35,564 polling stations opened for voting across the country, representing 87 per cent of the 40,883 polling centres.

However, turnout by 5pm had been estimated at 48 per cent of registered voters, which was expected to rise to above 50 per cent. According to Chebukati, 5,319 polling centres did not send an opening signal.

Out of these, 3,831 are in the Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s backyard of Kisumu, Migori, Homa Bay and Siaya where no voting took place due to a blockade by violent protesters while 1,488 are in other regions that mainly faced challenges of bad weather.

Poll analysts were last night projecting that Jubilee candidate Uhuru Kenyatta could be headed for a tally of more than eight million votes going by Chebukati’s projection of 48 per cent turn out.

Heavy voter turnout that could equal the 80 per cent witnessed in the first election of August 8 was recorded in Jubilee strongholds of Mt Kenya and Rift Valley regions. Other areas that showed good turnout were where Jubilee did well in August—Nairobi, Kajiado, Narok, Northern Kenya, Upper Eastern, Kuria in Migori, Kisii, Nyamira and some parts of Bungoma and Lamu counties.

Regions that largely favoured Nasa had sparsely distributed turnout and they included Mombasa, Kwale, Tana River, Lower Eastern, Western and Turkana. But the four Nasa bedrock counties of Nyanza region recorded no voting as protesters blocked police and electoral officials from opening stations.

Chebukati said the four counties and other areas that did not register voting will have a repeat poll tomorrow as he revealed he had written to the Inspector General of Police to provide adequate security to ensure materials are delivered and polling centres opened.

Unlike with the August 8 poll, tallies from polling stations were not being projected live on the IEBC portal as the commission appeared cautious to wait for verification from the polling centres before airing the provisional results.

By last night 27,124 Forms 34A had been received according to Chebukati. However, with Uhuru and his running mate William Ruto facing minimal challenge after Nasa’s Raila pulled out, the outcome was expected to be a foregone conclusion, with just the final tally in abeyance.

Violence and boycott characterised the repeat election in Raila’s backyard where protesters mainly in Kisumu, Migori, Homa Bay and Siaya towns battled with police all day to block voting.

The Opposition leaders and supporters lived up to their threats of ‘no election’ by disrupting the poll in their support bases, but the exercise was largely peaceful in many other regions.

In many Jubilee strongholds, though the early morning turnout was lower than it was on August 8, the number of voters continued to increase as the chilly morning weather cleared.

Thousands of mobilisers hired by local elected leaders started blowing whistles and vuvuzelas in the villages from 4am to wake up residents to go and vote. In Nasa zones of Homa Bay, Kisumu, Siaya, Migori and Nairobi’s Kibera and Mathare, Bangladesh in Mombasa, parts of Busia and Kakamega, police engaged protesters in daylong running battles.

At least five people were reported to have been shot dead and scores injured in the protests. President Uhuru voted at Mutomo Primary School in Gatundu South, Kiambu, where he said he would reach out to all Kenyans once he is declared the winner.

After casting his vote, Uhuru said whoever wins the election has a duty of fostering national healing and unity after divisive campaigns. “It is the responsibility of whoever is elected to tackle ethnic divisions, an issue that we must continue to fight as we forge ahead in nation building.

We cannot progress if we remain bogged down by tribal politics,” he said. “We’re tired as a country of electioneering. It’s time we moved forward,” he said, adding that most of the country was “calm and peaceful”.

Ruto, after voting at Kosachei Primary School near his Sugoi home in Eldoret, appealed for peace. He appealed to all Kenyans to respect the rights of those who wish to participate in the election.

“It is unfortunate that some Kenyans may not have the freedom to vote because some leaders have imposed their will on them,” he said. There was little or no activity in Raila’s backyards of Nyanza, some parts of Western Kenya, Mombasa, and Nairobi. In these areas, including Migori and Raila’s home town Bondo, polling stations remained closed after ballots materials failed to arrive.

Nasa supporters in opposition-loyal informal settlements barricaded roads with bonfires. In Nairobi, Kibera slums, Raila’s former constituency, voting remained suppressed as youth engaged police in running battles to prevent voters from voting.

Early morning, anti-riot police confronted the youth, who had barricaded the main road leading to Olympic Primary School, the biggest polling station in the slums where Raila has voted for the last 25 years.

In Murang’a, leaders lauded the high voter turnout, exuding confidence that Jubilee would carry the day. Free transport for the voters was provided for the second day as hundreds of people who live in Nairobi travelled upcountry to vote.

The sick, elderly and disabled were also assisted from homes to the polling stations to vote in many Central and Rift Valley regions. In the afternoon, residents were treated to a rare show of a chopper going round Murang’a county calling out to anyone who had not cast their vote to do so.

Governor Mwangi Wa Iria, Senator Irungu Kang’ata and Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro said their vigorous campaign to mobilise people to come out to vote paid off.

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