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Obama urges Kenyan government to respect election result

08 Agosto 2017, 03:26 | Bibiana Flor

Kenyan President H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta

Former president Mahama plays peacemaker in Kenya prior to hotly contested elections

Last night, after an acrimonious campaign that was decisive and in some cases violent, President Uhuru Kenyetta gave a passionate speech where he appealed to his country men and women to rise above ethnic sentiments and uphold the spirit of Kenyan founding fathers. "Today, those voices - your voices - are needed more than ever".

Voting began relatively smoothly, with delays, technical hiccups and unexpected downpours slowing the process at some of the 41,000 polling stations, but the electoral commission (IEBC) said the situation was being dealt with.

Odundu is a Luo and had just voted for Odinga, yet he complained of the "tribalism" of Kenyatta's government, and insisted the opposition leader won his support through policies to help the poor, not ethnicity. "We are praying. I am praying for peace", she said. Really, there's no need for violence, ' said Tom Mboya, 43, who works in construction.

Mr Kenyatta, the 55-year-old incumbent, wants a second and final term in office for his Jubilee Party after narrowly winning the last election in 2013, despite having International Criminal Court (ICC) charges of inciting violence hanging over him.

"May the stronger candidate win tomorrow", said Odinga, who has run unsuccessfully for the presidency on three occasions. However Odinga took his grievances to the courts instead of the streets, where he lost.

Odinga also served as prime minister from 2008 to 2013.

'Everyone has a right to vote and we should all be ready to accept the results.

The allegation of corruption is a perennial one in Kenyan politics, which for generations has been organised along ethnic lines with elected leaders expected to funnel state cash in the direction of their communities. "We thank Kenyans for making the work of agents easy". If we fight, will any of the candidates come to bring us food in our houses?' he said.

More than 19 million voters have registered to cast their vote in Tuesday's election.

Kenyans wait to cast their ballots at Westlands Primary School in Nairobi, August 8, 2017. Half are aged under 35.

Authorities are bracing for an outbreak of violence, with 18,000 police and security forces deployed across the country in anticipation of the vote.

In addition to a new president, Kenyans are electing lawmakers and local representatives, the result of a post-2007 constitutional shake-up created to devolve power and reduce the "winner takes all" nature of the presidential race.

He was then handed all the six ballot papers for the candidates vying for various seats and proceeded to the polling booth to vote. But should Mr Kenyatta lose the election, one of the reasons would nearly certainly be because he allowed Mr Odinga to have the undivided attention of the country for more than an hour without the chance to make his own case. But with elections dictated largely by tribal alliances, Kenyatta might still have the votes he needs to win.

Kenyatta, 52, is the son of Kenya's first president, Jomo Kenyatta, and a longtime participant in the country's political life.



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