About the Author: Joseph Kabiru is CAFOD’s Media and Communications Officer for the East and Horn of Africa.
At Kadenye Nursery school polling station in my home village of Moto, I was woken up by voters who spent the night at the polling station. Men and women – some with babies strapped on their backs – started arriving as early as 1am. They braved a very chilly night as they waited for voting to start at 6am, but it wasn’t until 6.30am that the first voter cast their vote.
This is the most complicated election for Kenyans since independence as voters have to pick six candidates simultaneously – president, governor, senator, MPs, women representative, and county representative. It took me 20 minutes to cast my vote and it is almost certain most voters will not have cast their votes by 5pm when the polls close. However, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has assured all voters they will be able to cast their votes if they are still in the queue at 5pm.
But the voting process hasn’t been the only concern. The first sign that all was not well came when I received a text alerting me to news of the killings of four police officers. This was confirmed an hour later. Then I received a news alert that a car had been burnt in Shinyalu in western Kenya. I began to worry.
This general election has been held against a backdrop of fears there will be a repeat of the violence seen after the 2007/2008 election. The sense of patriotism shown by Kenyans who lined up at the polling stations hours before polls open was being marred by incidents of violence. We pray that the security agencies will not allow the situation to degenerate.
The failure of the BVR machines, which have been touted as the best way to ensure this election is free and fair, is also cause for worry. Presiding officers have had to resort to the use of manual registers, which were heavily blamed for the rigging of elections in 2007. It is hoped political parties will not use that as an excuse to question the credibility of the elections.
Across Kenya the desire for peaceful elections is visible everywhere. This morning a newspaper headline caught my eye – it sums up the mood of the voters – it simply reads, ’NEVER AGAIN’.