Kenyans Batten Down Hatches Bracing for Result of Tight Election

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Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya`s president, speaks during a presidential election rally for the Jubilee Party in Nairobi, Kenya, on Friday, Aug.
The winner of Kenya`s presidential elections on Tuesday is likely to be determined by voting in just nine of the country`s 47 counties, where the two main candidates are battling for dominance.
Photographer: Riccardo Gangale/Bloomberg Carolyne Jideyi struggled to carry two bags of groceries at the Toi open-air market in Nairobi, as she joined hundreds of thousands of residents over the weekend in a last-minute shopping spree before Tuesday’s tightly contested election.
“You never know what is going to happen after elections,” said Jideyi, a 34-year-old mother of three.
“The market may close and we need to eat.
” On Monday, the streets of Kenya’s notoriously traffic-jammed capital were eerily quiet as some residents headed off to their home villages to vote and others remained in their houses fearing an eruption of violence after the elections, pitting President Uhuru Kenyatta, 55, against former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, 72, in a tight race.
Read more on the candidates here Elections are fraught times for Kenyans, with memories still fresh of a disputed vote in 2007 that triggered two months of bloodshed and left 1,100 people dead in East Africa’s biggest economy.
Nerves have been further frayed by the murder of a key election official last week and opposition warnings that violence may erupt if the ballot is rigged.
“We are stocking up a bit more because we want to be on the safe side in case we get shortages in the next few weeks following the uncertainties of the elections,” Ishuah Kariuki, 29, said as he maneuvered two trolleys at the Yaya Shopping Centre.
The murder of Chris Msando, the electoral body’s top information and communication technology official, on July 28 has raised concern about post-election violence, according to analysts including Ahmed Salim, a Dubai-based vice president at research firm Teneo Strategy.
Vote Rigging Odinga’s five-party opposition coalition National Super Alliance has repeatedly accused the authorities of plotting to rig the vote.
About 15 people wearing balaclavas raided one of the opposition’s offices in Nairobi on Aug.
4 and confiscated laptops, computer servers and cameras, the party said.
While the police denied responsibility for the raid, four foreigners working for the opposition’s IT department were arrested and subsequently deported, the Nairobi-based Standard newspaper reported.
An American and a Canadian were detained and deported, the U.
embassy in Kenya said on Twitter.
If Odinga and his opposition alliance lose, they’ll probably allege vote tampering, according to Salim.
“It is almost certain that the election result will be contested with speculation of vote rigging fueling violent reactions by supporters of the opposition and incumbents, regardless of the final result,” he said in an emailed note.

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