08 August 2017, The Tablet

Religious leaders call for politicians to accept results as Kenya goes to polls in too close to call election

The final week of campaigning has been marred by the murder of a top election official, Christopher Musando, and claims of attempts to rig the results

Religious leaders call for politicians to accept results as Kenya goes to polls in too close to call election

Kenya’s religious leaders have urged politicians to shun violence and “publicly commit” to accepting the results of today’s election as voters go to the polls to elect a president and a new parliament following weeks of campaigning and claims of a plot to rig the results.

Polling stations were crowded from the early hours of this morning, with some voters queuing from 1am. Voting began officially at 6am and is expected to end at 5pm local time with results to be announced within seven days.

More than 19 million voters have registered to cast their vote in today’s election which pits incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta against an opposition coalition led by veteran politician Raila Odinga.

The final week of campaigning has been marred by the murder of a top election official, Christopher Chege Musando.

According to recent polls, Kenyatta and Odinga are thought to be virtually tied in popularity. If neither candidate secures more than 50 per cent of the vote then there will be a second round.

Given the tightness of the presidential race, Odinga’s repeated claims that the vote has been rigged could well inflame tensions.

Two previous elections were blighted by violence amid widespread claims of vote-rigging. In 2007, the disputed vote escalated in to violence that left at least 1,300 people dead and 600,000 displaced from their homes. Thousands of Kenyans have already fled big cities, fearing a repeat of the violence.

“Politicians must publicly commit themselves to accepting the results announced by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) or appeal to the law if they are not satisfied with the results,” a group of Kenya’s religious leaders, chaired by Bishop Cornelius Arap Korir of Eldoret, wrote in a statement released last night.

“They have no right to incite their supporters to commit acts of violence against other Kenyans if the results are not in their favour” the religious leaders continue, describing such behaviour as “atrocious and evil political strategy.”

Just hours after polling stations opened, there were signs of voting irregularities, reports the New York Times. Hundreds of voters discovered that their names were not on the register, there were reports that voting materials in some constituencies had not been delivered, and voting kits were not working properly in other areas.

Reports of stampedes and of the use of tear gas by the police at two polling stations have been circulating on social media.

Yesterday, President Kenyatta urged voters to go home after casting their ballots.

"Go back to your neighbour, regardless of where he or she comes from, their tribe, their colour or their religion," he said.

PICTURE: People queue to cast ballot at a polling station in Nairobi 8 August, 2017


"Shake their hand, share a meal and tell them 'let us wait for the results', for Kenya will be here long after this general election."










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