In a bid for what might be the last showdown of a dynastic rivalry that has lasted more than half a century since the presidential candidates’ fathers Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Odinga went from allies in the struggle for independence to bitter rivals, Kenyans began one of the most tensed elections ever. Kenyans began voting Tuesday in general elections headlined by a too-close-to-call battle between incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and his rival Raila Odinga.
According to reports every eligible voter in the country have turned up at polling stations to vote, some from before midnight.
Voting began relatively smoothly, with minor delays and technical hiccups, while all eyes are on a biometric voter identification and tallying system whose success is seen as crucial to a smooth election.
Tensions soared in the last days of the campaign with the murder of a top election official in charge of the electronic voting system and opposition claims of a plot to rig the vote heightening a feverish atmosphere of conspiracy and suspicion.
The polls come a decade after a shambolic election — which foreign observers agreed was riddled with irregularities — sparked violence which left more than 1,100 dead and 600,000 displaced.
Odinga, 72, who is the flagbearer for the NASA coalition, is taking his fourth and likely final stab at the presidency.
He claims elections in 2007 and 2013 were stolen from him and right up until the eve of the vote, insisted that Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party planned to rig Tuesday’s presidential election.
Elections in 2013 were marred by the widespread failure of the electronic system, forcing officials to revert to manual counting of the vote. However Odinga took his grievances to the courts instead of the streets, where he lost.