Kenya's general election kicks off

Monday, March 4, 2013

Nairobi - Kenyans have started queuing up at the polls on Monday morning with the Independent and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) urging them to maintain peace in order to ensure a credible election.

Addressing a press conference on Sunday at the Bomas of Kenya complex, which will be the main counting centre, IEBC Chairman Isaack Hassan said polling stations would open at 6am and will close at 5pm countrywide.

He urged Kenyans to come out and vote for their voices to be heard. At the same time, he added that he expects voters to leave polling stations immediately after voting.

The IEBC boss added that provisional results would be out within 48 hours of voting.

Hassan also appealed to employers withholding their employees' identity documents to release them to enable them to vote.

Acting Police Spokesman Charles Owino said police had warned criminals planning to disrupt Monday's voting exercise that they would meet the full force of the law.

Owino said Inspector-General of Police (IGP) David Kimaiyo had received information that some people were plotting to cause chaos in Kibera, Mathare and Kisumu and additional police personnel had been deployed to the three areas to deal with any eventuality.

Owino said 99 000 police officers had been deployed across the country, while 7 000 senior police officers had also been deployed to supervise the election process. He assured Kenyans of security.

However on Monday morning, four Kenyan police officers were killed in Mombasa by suspected secessionist group the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) which had threatened to disrupt the general election in the coastal region, hours before polling started.

Regional police commander Aggrey Adoli said the slain police officers were ambushed by more than 100 militia while in a police vehicle at Mombasa's Miritini area at around 2am local time (2300 hours UTC, Sunday).

The killings came a few hours before polls opened as 14.3 million Kenyans vote to elect the country's fourth president and other national and local officials in the historic polls under the country's new Constitution.

The group had earlier attacked residents at Mshomoroni area in Kisauni district where they slashed two civilians before escaping. Local police boss Julius Wanjohi said the injured were rushed to the nearby hospital for treatment.

MRC, an increasingly violent Islamist group, is charging that the coastal people's rights to land and property ownership has been violated.

Meanwhile, election campaigning which officially kicked off a month ago ended on Saturday evening with relative calm reported across the country. The campaigns culminated in two major rallies in the capital Saturday pitting the two front-runners of the presidential election -- Prime Minister Raila Odinga of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) and Deputy Prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee coalition. -