, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 8 – Polls have opened in Kenya’s high stakes election, with voters having started streaming to polling stations as early as 1am.
Voting has already started in most parts of the country.
Anxious voters camped throughout the night at various polling stations ready to cast the vote on Tuesday morning, signaling a likely high voter turnout in the Kenya vote.
At the Moi Avenue Primary School Polling Station in Nairobi’s Starehe Constituency, hundreds of voters started lining up at 11pm and more were streaming in at 1am, five hours ahead of 6am when polls were set to open.
“I thought I am the only one coming early… I am surprised at the number of people here and the more that are coming,” Peter Mureithi said, having joined the queue shortly before midnight Monday.
The polling station is the largest in the city centre, and the queue was already past the Globe Cinema Interchange a few meters from Moi Avenue.
Most of the voters who chose to spend the night at the poll station were hawkers from around the city who wanted to vote early and carry on with their work.
“It was easier for us to stay here than go home then come back here early in the morning. We have our jobs to do and our families to feed but we also want to exercise our constitutional right to vote for the leaders we want,” one of the voters who identified herself as Muthoni said.
Another voter added: “There is no sleeping today. If we have to, we will do so while sitting here. We want to be among the first ones to vote and by 9am all of us should be back to work. Above all, we want to vote peacefully.”
The call for peace resonated with everyone we spoke to with all calling for restraint and people to accept the results.
“Everyone has a right to vote and we should all be ready to accept the results. There is no need to fight because of elections. We are all Kenyans irrespective of tribe. If we fight, will any of the candidates come to bring us food in our houses?” Calvin Otieno, another voter said after joining the queue at midnight.
Another one added: “These politicians always say we are the stupid ones because for them at the end of the day they will be friends, call each other brother and son while we are fighting with each other for them. We must be friends too.”
There was heavy security at the polling station, with more than 10 police officers patrolling the area.
Starehe is one of the constituencies in the city which will witness a bare knuckle fight for the new Member of Parliament with the battle pitting youngsters; businessman Steve Mbogo, musician Charles ‘Jaguar’ Njagua and activist Boniface Mwangi.
The situation was the same in Kisumu, Nyeri, Gatundu, Kisii and Nakuru.