Kenyans vote in re-run election

Voting is underway in Kenya in a re-run presidential election, boycotted by the main opposition.
Volunteers check the passport of one voter before casting her vote in Kigali
Volunteers check the passport of one voter before casting her vote in Kigali

Voting is underway in Kenya in a re-run presidential election, boycotted by the main opposition.

The voting follows Supreme Court decision which nullified the results of the August 8 poll, which was won by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Chief Justice David Maraga said the August poll had not been “conducted in accordance with the Constitution” declaring it “invalid, null and void.”

The verdict, which was backed by four of the six Supreme Court judges, according to Maraga, found that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had committed irregularities “in the transmission of results.”

Kenyan Electoral commission volunteer supervises one voter casting her vote at Kenyan Embassy in Kigali (Sam Ngendahimana)

The polls on Thursday opened at 06:00.

Kenyatta, who won 54 percent of the previous vote, Thursday, cast his ballot at Mutomo Primary School polling station in Gatundu, Kiambu County, close to Kenya's capital, Nairobi, flanked by his wife, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.

Addressing the media at the polling station, the president reiterated his call for peace, expressing his hope and wish that the country will move on after the latest poll.

“I believe that we are tired as a country of electioneering. It is time we move forward. Let us cast our votes, elect our leaders and move on,” he said.

Reports indicate that the repeat vote is being boycotted by the main opposition.

The main opposition leader Raila Odinga withdrew his candidacy and called on his supporters to stay at home and boycott the rerun presidential election.

His opposition coalition - the National Super Alliance (NASA) - made clear its participation in the election was contingent on reforms being made.

Odinga says the IECB failed to make the changes needed to prevent a repeat of the mistakes that marred the earlier poll.

The IECB disputes this.

Earlier, the East African Community launched a short term election observation mission in Nairobi to observe the presidential election.

According to an EAC statement, the Head of the Mission, Prof. Edward B. Rugumayo from Uganda urged the EAC Observers to remain focused to their role and professionalism as they undertake the mission and ensure thorough exercise of due diligence in their tasks and positive discretion in making judgments on the situation on the ground.

In Kigali, the Kenyan High Commission was open in early in the morning for Kenyans living in Rwanda to cast their votes.

After casting his vote, Geoffrey Kabuta, 47, told The New Times that he hoped that once the poll is finished everything will be okay and his country will return to normal.

Kabuta, a fire fighter who has lived and worked in Rwanda for the last seven years, had also voted from the embassy in the August election whose outcome was nullified by the Supreme Court.

Kabuta said: “We voted and it was cancelled and now we come again. Even if this is required a third time I will come back and vote. We want to see Kenya continue growing, not the stand still it is in now. We don’t wish to be in elections every day as Kenya is not owned by one person but 45 million.”

“After this, I hope that everything will be okay and we go back to our normal lives. We have school children starting national exams on Monday. Who will take care of these children? The business environment has been down and it is bad.”

Staffers of IEBC arrived in Kigali last Friday to prepare for the poll rerun.

The polling station at the embassy in Kigali opened at 05:00 local time, a presiding officer told The New Times.

They will close voting at 04:00 pm local time, which is 05:00 pm Kenyan time.

Inside the High Commission compound there were two polling stations.

Polling clerks were kept busy supervising voters by 09:30 am when our reporter visited.

Another voter, Evans Arumba Kinaro, 42, observed that the process is “fair and just” and all he wanted was harmony and a return to normalcy in his country.

Kinaro said: “After the first poll was nullified by a competent court and for understandable reasons, this round we hope that we shall see a fair, just, positive and accountable outcome because based on the voter data base at the electoral commission.”

Nuzhat A. Mwinzangu, a presiding officer of one of the polling stations, said she had 437 registered voters while the second had 438 registered voters, making a total 875 expected voters.

“The turn up here, as you can see, is okay. It is just as it happened last time,” she said, noting that it was the same IEBC team that supervised the August poll in Kigali.

At 04:00 pm, she said, they will take a short break after which they will rearrange the polling stations into counting centers and start counting the ballots at around 04:30 pm. Their final statistics will then be sent to the IEBC headquarters in Nairobi.

Reports say about 70 people have been killed in violence since President Kenyatta was declared the winner of the August election.