Friday, March 24, 2023

Voting closed in Kenya with low turnout

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – Kenyans voted lower than usual on Tuesday in a rare presidential election, in which an opposition leader backed by the incumbent president faced a vice president portrayed as outside politics. Turnout was just 56% an hour before the close, and some citizens said there was little hope of change.

A close result is expected, and East Africa’s economic sector may see a runoff in a presidential election for the first time. Economic issues can outweigh the ethnic tensions that have marked previous elections, sometimes with fatal consequences.

In some places hundreds of voters lined up hours before polling began, often after volunteers were called in at dawn by whistling. In some areas, polling started late due to delay in arrival of workers or material.

Kenya stands out for its relatively democratic system in a region where few rulers have clinging to power for decades. Its stability is important to foreign investors, humble street vendors and troubled neighbors such as Ethiopia and Somalia.

The main candidates were Raila Odinga, who has run for the presidency for a quarter-century, and Vice President William Ruto, who highlighted his track record of drawing millions of Kenyans into economic hardship from a humble childhood and accustomed to political dynasties. Is. ,

After being one of the first to vote, Ruto told reporters with a smile, “Sometimes it’s when the great and the mighty realize that in the end, the decisions are made by ordinary and ordinary people.” “I am looking forward to my Victory Day.” He urged citizens to remain peaceful and respect the decisions of others.

The son of Kenya’s first president, incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta, after their acrimonious election duel in 2017, crossed common ethnic divides and strengthened Ruto by backing his long-time rival Odinga. But both Odinga and Ruto chose running mates from the largest ethnic group. Country, Kikuyu.

Odinga, 77, made history by running alongside Martha Karua, the first favorite woman in the vice-presidency.

Rising food and fuel prices, heavy state debt, high unemployment and widespread corruption put the economy at the center of an election in which a lack of regulation on campaign spending reflected the country’s inequalities. But the character of the candidates also matters.

“We need mature people to lead, not someone who abuses people. Someone who respects elders,” said Rosemary Mullima, a 55-year-old teacher who arrived with friends at a polling station outside Nairobi, finding some 500 people lined up before dawn. He said he was “very” hopeful that Odinga would win on his fifth attempt.

Others expected a turnout to be lower than 80% five years ago, which they attributed to a lack of voter motivation.

“The problems of 2017, like the economy, are still there, day by day,” said shopkeeper Abrian Ribera, 38. “We don’t have good options,” he said, as Odinga seemed too old and Ruto too inexperienced.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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