Nairobi, Aug 9 (EFE).- Long queues formed at dawn in Kenya on Tuesday as polling stations opened for voting in the country’s general election.
Even before 6 am local time (03:00 GMT), when the voting centers opened their doors, thousands of citizens were seen lining up to cast their vote at schools, including in Nairobi and Mombasa, the country’s second city.
It is expected to be a close election in which only four candidates were cleared by the election commission to run for the presidency, with two frontrunners having emerged: former prime minister Raila Odinga, 77, and current deputy president, William Ruto, 55.
Odinga, who is running for president for the fifth time, leads the Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition, while Ruto, who heads the Kenya Kwanza alliance, is making his debut for the top position.
After two five-year terms, President Uhuru Kenyatta cannot run again, according to the constitution. In a surprising move, he has backed opposition leader Odinga.
Only some 22.1 million citizens out of a national population of around 55 million people have registered to vote, according to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
More than 46,200 polling stations will open, with doors closing at 5 pm (14:00 GMT) to start vote counting, the results of which should be published in a maximum of seven days.
Observers from various international organizations, such as the European Union and the African Union, have sent missions to the country to monitor the vote, while some 150,000 law enforcement officers have been deployed.
Kenyans will not only elect a new president, but also 290 deputies and 47 seats reserved for women in the National Assembly (Lower House) and 47 parliamentarians in the Senate (Upper House).
Likewise, citizens will elect the governors and legislative assemblies of the 47 counties of the country.
Kenya is often pointed to by the international community as a stabilizing power in the troubled Horn of Africa region and a loyal partner of the West. EFE