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Reports of vote buying in elections

04 March 2013, 17:40

Nairobi - Kenyans were voting in general elections on Monday that opened on a tense note with the killing of 12 people in the port city of Mombasa, some five years after polls ended in bloodshed.

Coastal Provincial Police Chief Aggrey Adoli blamed the attack on the Mombasa Republican Council, a separatist movement that has threatened to disrupt the elections.

Six police officers and six assailants were killed after about 200 people wearing police uniforms - some of them armed with guns and bows and arrows - ambushed the officers, the authorities said.

The attack took place just before polls opened. About 400 additional security forces were being deployed to Mombasa.

One person died near Garissa, in the east near the border with Somalia, after several bombs went off in the area.

Nearly 100 000 security personal were deployed across the country.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his deputy Uhuru Kenyatta are the frontrunners among eight presidential candidates in the crucial election.

President Mwai Kibaki is stepping down after reaching the two-term limit.

Kenyatta and his vice-presidential running mate William Ruto are among four people indicted by the International Criminal Court for their alleged role in orchestrating the ethnically driven violence after a disputed Kibaki-Odinga runoff vote in 2007.

Long lines

More than 1 000 people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced before Kibaki and Odinga reached a power sharing deal in early 2008.

Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's founding leader Jomo Kenyatta, is to stand trial along with Ruto in April on charges of crimes against humanity.

Some 14.3 million people are registered to cast their ballots for president, parliament and local officials at 24 558 polling stations, according to the electoral body.

Voters are electing 290 National Assembly representatives and numerous local officials.

Voters started queuing as early as 03:00, but there were long lines at some polling stations that stretched far down roads and around blocks. There were special queues for the elderly and pregnant women.

There were some allegations of irregularities, such as vote buying, at polling stations in several regions. On hand were local and international observers, including from the US-based Carter Centre and the European Union.

The United States and several European Union nations have warned of consequences if the ICC suspects are elected to high office.

High unemployment, chronic poverty and an infrastructure deficit are among the main issues facing the East African nation of some 43 million people.

In the west of the country, US President Barack Obama's half-brother Malik Obama is running for governor of Siaya, the county where their father Barack Obama Sr was born and raised.

Malik Obama focused his campaign squarely on poverty eradication and infrastructure development. He said the US leader promised to visit Kenya if the elections were free and transparent.

Results are expected by March 11, though provisional results could be released within 48 hours of polls closing.

A presidential run-off vote is set for April if no candidate wins an outright majority.



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