Africa |Developing

Kenyan polls close as clashes leave one dead

This is a developing story that will be updated as events unfold. To contribute, please go to the TALK page.

Polls closed 5pm local time in the controversial rerun of Kenya’s presidential election, which went ahead despite violent protests that left one protester dead and others injured.

People queue to cast their votes at a polling station during a presidential election re-run in Gatundu, Kenya October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Reuters reported that police fired tear gas and water cannons at opposition supporters who set up barricades to block access to polling stations. The news agency said that at least one person was killed and several others injured after police fired bullets at protesters in the western city of Kisumu, a stronghold of opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Presidential incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta is almost certain to win this latest attempt at an election. Odinga withdrew from standing in the second vote because he claimed it would not be free and fair, and had called on Kenyans to boycott the vote.

The majority of the violence has been in Odinga strongholds in the west of the country. Four western counties, out of Kenya’s 47, had to close voting stations early. The electoral commission said that the polls there will reopen on Saturday, October 28.

Postponing the polls until the weekend may be unnecessary. BBC reports that constituents in western districts have boycotted the election at a rate near-100 percent, as requested by Odinga.

Odinga today tweeted that his party is “transforming … into a resistance movement.”

Amnesty International said in a statement that security forces have been heavily deployed in opposition strongholds and have urged the police to exercise restraint.

The second vote was ordered after Kenya’s Supreme Court last month nullified the result of presidential elections. The initial vote, on August 8, was announced in favor of incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta. However, the court found that the electoral commission had erred in announcing the result before the count had been verified.

The recent unrest has stoked fears of a repeat of the violence that followed Kenya’s 2007 election and claimed an estimated 1,300 lives.

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Jack Barton is a staff journalist at WikiTribune where he writes about international law, human rights and finance, whilst covering daily news. He was previously a senior reporter at Law Business Research and has experience covering law and international development, with credits in the Sunday Times, the New Indian Express, and New Statesman online among others. He has an LLM in Human Rights and worked on a UN-funded research project, looking at peace processes.

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