JOHANNESBURG, August 8 – Polling began at 6 am on Tuesday morning in Kenya, where nearly 20 million citizens have registered to vote in a contest between the incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta the son of the country’s founding father Jomo Kenyatta against the wily veteran opposition 72-year-old Raila Odinga.
Recent surveys have indicated that the margins between the two protagonists are very small. There are about 10 million registered male who have registered to vote and slightly more than nine million female voters. Thousands of prisoners and people leaving in the diaspora are also expected to cast their ballots.
Hours before the polls opened the 55-year-old Kenyatta told his countrymen in a televised message to remain calm and to vote peacefully. There had been earlier reports of a roadside bomb blast which hit a vehicle in the Nyongoro-Witu area and injured 2 people.
Presidential polls in 2007 were marred by post election violence that left 1,100 people dead and 600,000 displaced.
In an obvious attempt to prevent any chaos, Kenyatta said: “After you cast your ballot, please go home.”
He said Kenyans should shake hands with their neighbours, share a meal and wait for the results.
“Kenya will be here long after this general election,” said Kenyatta.
– African News Agency (ANA)