Polling stations open for Kenyan general election

Nairobi, Aug 9 The polling stations opened today in Kenya with long queues of voters that began to form at dawn for general elections in which Kenyans are called to elect, among other positions, a new president.

Since before 06:00 local time (03:00 GMT), when the voting centers opened their doors, thousands of citizens could be seen lining up to cast their vote in schools in Nairobi and Mombasa (southeast), the second city in the country.

It is a close election in which four candidates are vying for the Presidency, although only two have a chance of winning: former Prime Minister Raila Odinga (77 years old) and the current Vice President, William Ruto (55).

Odinga – who is running for the head of state for the fifth time – leads the Azimio La Umoja (Aspiration for Unity, in Swahili) coalition, while Ruto is heading the Kenya Kwanza (Kenya First) coalition for the first time.

Only some 22.1 million citizens out of a national population of around 55 million people registered to vote, according to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEBC).

Voters will be able to go to just over 46,200 polling stations, whose doors have to close at 5:00 p.m. local time (2:00 p.m. GMT) to start counting the results, which should be published in a maximum of seven days.

Observers from different international organizations, such as the European Union (EU) or the African Union (AU), have sent missions to the country to monitor the vote, while some 150,000 law enforcement officers have been deployed throughout the territory.

Kenyans today not only elect a new president, but also 290 deputies and 47 seats reserved for women in the National Assembly (Lower House), on the one hand, and 47 parliamentarians in the Senate (Upper House), on the other.

Likewise, the citizens will elect the governors and the legislative assemblies of the 47 counties of the country.

Kenya is often identified by the international community as a stabilizing power in the troubled Horn of Africa region and a loyal partner of the West.

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