Kenya’s electoral commission has announced an estimated 48 per cent voter turnout after the country’s presidential election rerun on Thursday, which was marred by opposition boycott, protests and deadly clashes.
The Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said 35,564 polling stations opened for the election out of the 40,883 in the 47 counties nationwide. Voting in four counties, which are opposition strongholds, were postponed to Saturday due to insecurity caused by protesters engaging in running battles with the security forces.
The counties include Migori, Siaya, Kisumu and Homa Bay where protesters who were supporters of the main opposition party National Super Alliance (NASA) led by Raila Odinga failed to stay at home as ordered by their leader.
Three people were reported killed as protesters threw stones at the police who in turn fired tear gas canisters, water cannons and in some cases used live bullets.
The rerun follows the 8 August presidential election which was annulled by the Supreme Court citing irregularities after a case was filed by Odinga.
IEBC to postpone the repeat election beyond the prescribed 60 days after calling for the sack of elections officials.
Odinga boycotted the re-run stating that the reforms ordered by the court had not been undertaken, thus the process was not going to free and fair.
Addressing local and international journalists after voting in the fresh presidential election, President Uhuru Kenyatta affirmed his commitment to work to ensure the country is united if he is elected.
“Campaigns are divisive and it is the responsibility of whoever is elected president to deal with those divisions, to heal and bring the country together,” Kenyatta said
The Kenyan leader identified tribalism as the cause of the tensions, calling on
Citizens to replace tribal politics with issues-based politics.
“What we have is a problem of tribalism and tribalism is an issue that we must continue to deal with and fight with as we continue to develop our country. We cannot achieve our goals if we continue to embark on tribalistic politics. “Democracy is about the majority – majority of the people of the nation, we must remove from our politics; ethnicity, religion and be a nation that is led by issues.”
Observers say voting in Kenya is almost entirely along tribal lines. The country’s politics have been characterized by ethnic tensions since independence in 1963. But it was not until 2007/8 that the demons of tribalism really flared up after the hotly disputed national elections which left more than 1,000 people dead and thousands others internally displaced.