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Kenyans prepare for vote amid fears of violence

As Kenyans cast their ballots on Tuesday morning to pick their next president, they are amid fears for ethnic and tribalism violence between rival supporters are likely to be decisive.

Long queues formed outside polling stations in divisive elections that pit the third son of Jomo Kenyatta, incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta against veteran opposition leader and longtime rival Raila Odinga.

Many voters had waited for hours in the rain to choose between the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta, who has been in power since 2013, or the veteran opposition politician Raila Odinga. The most recent polls did not indicate a clear winner.

Odinga is making his fourth attempt to gain power. He claims that elections in 2007 and 2013 were stolen from him.

There are more than 19 million registered voters in the nation of 48 million. Half are aged under 35. They will vote in 40,000 polling stations.

An estimated 180,000 police officers and members of the security forces have been deployed amid fears of violence after the result is announced, which may be as early as Wednesday morning.

The campaign was marred by hundreds of violent incidents including the murder of a high-profile election official issues with new voting technology and widespread concerns about fraud. More than 1,100 people died after the losers rejected the election result in 2007.

Election officials have circulated short videos on social media calling on voters to accept that in a “healthy democracy there are winners and losers”.

Kenyatta, 55, addressed the nation on Monday night, urging citizens to vote “in peace” while the former US president Barack Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, led international calls for a violence-free election.

“I urge Kenyan leaders to reject violence and incitement; respect the will of the people,” Obama said in a statement.

From local politicians to international observers, people in Kenya are hoping for peaceful elections. DW correspondent Sella Oneko said voters “hope that everything will pass quickly, so that things go back to normal.”

“Many people are very disillusioned and feel that elections and politicians haven’t and won’t improve things,” said Oneko.

>Juthy Saha

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