NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 6 – The African Union Election Observation Mission (AU EOM) has lauded Kenyans for turning out in large numbers and maintaining peace as they took part in Monday’s polls.
The group led by former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano noted that polling centres opened on time and Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials assisted voters as expected.
Chissano further pointed out that extra efforts were made to ensure that the process ended in one day despite long queues in many polling stations.
“The African Union Election Observation Mission noted with satisfaction the extra efforts by election officials to complete the process in one day despite the long queues in most polling stations towards closing time.
Furthermore, the presence of security officials was noted in all the stations visited by African Union teams,” he indicated.
He however expressed concern at the large number of rejected votes which he pointed out may stem from inadequate voter education.
“Although the mission recognizes the efforts made by IEBC to conduct voter education, it is of the view that these were not satisfactory.”
He however praised the electoral commission for its efforts from the beginning of the process to the end.
“While the mission notes the challenges involved in the conduct of the historical 2013 elections, in the aftermath of the 2007 experience, it commends the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and other relevant agencies such as the Judiciary, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission and the Registrar of Political Parties for the successful conduct of the elections,” he stated.
The AU EOM also said that it was impressed with the high voter turnout and enthusiasm apart from some isolated violent incidences which did not jeopardise the electoral process.
The front runners in the presidential race are Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta who is gunning for the seat on a TNA ticket and Prime Minister Raila Odinga who is the ODM candidate.
So far in the results which have been relayed live from the IEBC national rallying centre, Kenyatta is still leading with 2,820,539 votes followed by Odinga who has polled 2,226,372 votes.
Both candidates have exuded confidence of victory in the first round with each calling on the other to concede defeat.
According to Chissano, extremely long queues stretching over a kilometre were observed at the official opening of the polls at Moi Primary School at 6am.
Over 22,600 observers, both local and international have been accredited by Kenya’s electoral body to oversee the elections and have since spread to the ground ahead of the polls.