By Joseph Albert (Umunna TV)
Kenyans, today, Tuesday, lined up before dawn to vote in a high-stakes election, with the East African powerhouse on edge, as two political heavyweights battle it out in a tight race for the presidency.
Kenya is hoping for a peaceful transition of power after almost a decade under President Uhuru Kenyatta, but concerns about vote-rigging linger after past election disputes spiralled into bloodshed.
More than 22 million people, about 40 per cent of them under 35, are registered to vote in the election held against a backdrop of soaring inflation, a punishing drought and disenchantment with the political elite.
Deputy president and erstwhile heir-apparent, William Ruto, 55, is running against Raila Odinga, the 77-year-old veteran opposition leader, now backed by longtime rival Kenyatta, after a stunning shift in allegiances.
After a vitriolic campaign, voting was generally smooth, though some incidents of delays in opening polling stations and problems with electronic voter registration equipment were reported.
In one area in Nakuru county in western Kenya, police fired tear gas after youths blocked a road with burning tyres.
Odinga, who is known as “baba” or father and is making his fifth attempt at the presidency, later cast his ballot in the Nairobi slum of Kibera.
In his bastion in the lakeside city of Kisumu, the atmosphere was festive, with motorcyclists honking and blowing whistles.
Clara Otieno Opiyo, a 35-year-old vegetable seller, who travelled before dawn to vote with her five-year-old boy strapped to her back, said she hoped her vote would ease economic pain for working-class Kenyans like herself.
Analysts have in recent days suggested that Odinga, a onetime political prisoner and former prime minister, could edge past his younger rival, but if neither wins more than 50 per cent, Kenya would have to hold a run-off for the first time in its history.
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