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Kenya’s Elections: The First Round of Voting

Kenya’s Elections: The First Round of Voting

See the chaotic scenes as Kenya elects new president

By Steve Holland 22 February 2013

The presidential runoff election between Raila Odinga, an opposition leader who has the backing of the opposition parties, and his only rival, General Peter Odili a respected former Vice President of Kenya who is supported by the ruling party KANU, was held on Feb. 4, the day after Kenya’s Supreme Court lifted the injunction on the election.

Odinga took about 42 percent of the vote with about 38.9 percent for Odili. There was a slight lead for Odili after the results of the first round of voting, which were announced on January 29, were announced.

By this point most of the media had become disenchanted with the way the election was conducted, with the main newspapers running stories that the election was rigged. The foreign press were mostly not sympathetic to Odinga and this did not help him.

But a massive protest on the streets of Nairobi and other cities on February 3, as a result of the first round of voting, and the fact that it was an “unknown”, a “secret” vote, did not help.

Since the election began all the major polls were showing Odinga with a “stubborn lead” of about 60 percent. But when the counting took place on February 3, Odinga was behind by a few votes.

Odinga’s lead of 38.9 percent was not big but, as it was not a free or fair election, there has to be a response. It was clear from the response to the election on February 3 and 4 that most segments of the Kenyan public have no faith in the Kenyan electoral system and believe that it has been rigged.

The same day as the elections, Nairobi was the scene of a massive anti-government protest. The protest was led by the youth movement Mungiki and was backed by other groups. The protests, which received widespread media coverage, included the burning of offices of the Kenya National Lottery, the National Independent Electoral Commission, and the opposition, in a “day of rage”.

The Mungiki protest was the biggest demonstration the opposition has staged in Kenya since the country’s independence in 1963.

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