, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 26 – African Union Observers led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki have said the voting exercise is going on well despite calls to boycott poll by National Super Alliance leader Raila Odinga.
Mbeki said he had visited various polling stations in Nairobi and is optimistic that the election will be successful.
“We have visited various polling stations and we will still visit more but I must say the turnout and the process is quite impressive and as an observer group we are confident that the exercise will be successful,” said Mbeki.
Mbeki said as an observer group they don’t have a preferred candidate they are here to ensure that the process is credible and peaceful.
The African Union Observer Mission to Kenya also oversaw the August 8 elections where they gave a thumbs up to the whole process saying the election was free and fair.
The presidential election was nullified by the Supreme Court due to illegalities and irregularities in the process.
The African Union Observer group has a close to 100 observers.
However three observer groups namely the Carter center, the European Union Observer Mission and Common Wealth Mission which supervised the August 8 elections have scaled down the number of monitors in the country due to security concerns arising from NASA’s boycott of the repeat presidential election.
The European Union Election Observer Mission on its part cited attacks on statements made by the international community as the reason why it anticipates hostility against its monitors hence the decision to scale down.
The Commonwealth Mission under the leadership of former Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama will also not deploy as many monitors, electing instead to monitor critical processes at selected tallying centers including the National Tallying Center at Bomas of Kenya.
Most of the polling stations in the Nairobi Central Business District were opened as early as 6am but there was a low voter turnout compared to the August elections.
“Today I didn’t come early like in the previous election because I knew there wouldn’t be so many people and the ballot was only one but am sure more people are still coming,” said one voter at the Moi Avenue Polling station.
Voting is progressing on well elsewhere in the country, apart from polling centers in Nyanza, Nairobi’s Kibera and Mathare.
In Kisumu, Odinga’s stronghold, the polling stations remained closed and chained with no sign of the voting process taking place.
Ballot boxes and electronic kits to identify voters and transmit results had not arrived in polling stations, with officials facing attacks from opposition supporters while trying to deliver voting material.
In President Kenyatta’s strongholds the queues were long as early as 6am.
The voting process is expected to close at 5pm.