East Africa

KENYA POLLS: Turnout in landmark Kenya poll tops 70% Kenya, vote, 2013

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Kenyans turned out en masse Monday for the first presidential poll since disputed results triggered a wave of bloodletting five years ago, with all eyes on tallying after a close but peaceful race.

Six policemen were killed in an attack in the coastal city of Mombasa before polling opened but few other incidents were reported during polls seen as key to the regional powerhouse’s stability.

The two favourites are Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who says he was robbed of victory in 2007, and Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces crimes against humanity charges over the violence that killed more than 1,100 people.

Figures released around 10:30 pm (1930 GMT) and based on some 9% of ballots cast showed Kenyatta with 677,720 votes and Odinga with 481,042.

“All indications are for over 70% turnout,” Ahmed Issack Hassan, the head of the Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission (IEBC), told journalists.

Analysts warned that would suggest around 10 million people cast a ballot and that early results provided insufficient information to identify nationwide trends.

The results from the 2007 poll which Mwai Kibaki won against Odinga sparked a wave of protests, notably because of the lack of transparency in the way the tallying was done at that time.

The IEBC said it had decided to immediately make public figures as and when they are sent in by polling stations.

“As soon as data hits our screens it will be made available to the media in real time,” James Oswago, IEBC executive director, told journalists before the numbers started coming in.

Voters standing for hours in snaking lines several hundred metres (yards) long — and several people thick — crowded peacefully outside polling stations to take part in one of the most complex elections Kenya has ever held.

Tension was high Monday on the coast, where six policemen were killed in two separate attacks, including an ambush by some 200 youths armed with guns and bows and arrows, hours before the opening of polling stations.

Polls officially closed at 5.00 pm (1400 GMT), although centres whose opening had been delayed — some for several hours — were to stay open later than planned.

Kenyan police chief David Kimaiyo said the Mombasa attackers were suspected members of the secessionist Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), and that 400 officers were sent to beef up security in the popular tourist region.

Police have blamed the MRC for a string of attacks last year, and the group had threatened to boycott the polls.

Despite the attack, voters packed the streets in the city.

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