, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 8 – The European Union Election Observation Mission to Kenya says it is pleased with the smooth start of the voting process across the country.
Head of the Mission Marietje Schaake said although there had been a few hitches, everything was proceeding generally well.
She stated that her team was happy with the preparations that had been put in place to ensure that Kenyans participate in an exercise that is all-inclusive, fair and credible.
“For me I arrived here when people were patiently waiting in long lines. There were a lot of people here as you can see and I have not seen any issues myself,” she said.
“The goal was not only to look at what one person sees but the we have also got 130 observers all over the country and together, we can get a sense of what is happening all over the country,” she stated.
She however indicated that a more comprehensive statement would be made at the end of the exercise.
“We will look at the full picture and the day is long but as you can see here, people are eager to cast their votes, they have been waiting in line to exercise their democratic right,” she said.
Kenyans began voting Tuesday in general elections headlined by a too-close-to-call battle between incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and his rival Raila Odinga that has sent tensions soaring.
From first-time voters to those bent with age, thousands descended upon polling stations, some from before midnight, to cast their ballots under heavy security.
Voting began relatively smoothly, with minor delays and technical hiccups, while all eyes are on the biometric voter identification and tallying system whose success is seen as crucial to a smooth election.
Odinga, 72, who is the flag bearer for the NASA coalition, is making his fourth and likely final stab at the presidency.
He is facing off with the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta, 55 who is running on the Jubilee Party ticket.
Elections in 2013 were marred by the widespread failure of the electronic system, forcing officials to revert to manual counting of the vote. However Odinga took his grievances to the courts.
The devolution of power to Kenya’s 47 counties after a post-conflict constitutional reform means elections are now a complex affair, with citizens casting six different ballots.
Several tight races for posts such as governor have seen tensions flaring at the local level.