Kenyans Take to the Polls

Image: Kenya Election
Joseph Njoroge Kimani, 3, stands with his father James Kimani Njoroge, center-left, and mother Esther Wanjiru Njoroge, center-right, all wearing suits made in the colors of the Kenyan flag, as they queue to cast their votes in GatunduBen Curtis / AP

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/ Source: Reuters
By Reuters

NAIROBI - Kenyans queued in large numbers through fields and along pavements early on Tuesday to vote in the latest electoral showdown between the country's main political dynasties.

Shrouded in fear of violence, the close-fought clash pits President Uhuru Kenyatta, 55, the businessman son of Kenya's founding president, against Raila Odinga, a 72-year-old former political prisoner and son of Kenya's first vice-president.

The arch rivals are facing each other for the second time, and opinion polls have put them neck-and-neck after two months of campaigning marked by fiery rhetoric, but public speeches largely free of the ethnic hate that has sullied previous contests.

Lydia Gathoni, 104 years old, casts her vote during the presidential election at a polling station in GatunduBaz Ratner / Reuters

The winner needs one vote more than 50 percent.

First results are not expected before Wednesday, but a very close race might mean that it is as long as three days before a winner emerges. Officially, election authorities have up to a week to declare the outcome.

Police fired tear gas outside one Nairobi polling station to quell an impatient crowd, a Reuters witness said, although elsewhere early voting appeared to go off without a hitch.

People use the lights from their mobile phones to check names on the voters' roll at a polling station in KiberaMarco Longari / AFP - Getty Images

At the Mutomo primary school outside Nairobi, where Kenyatta is due to vote, hundreds of people had waited in line since 2 a.m., wrapped in jackets and blankets to protect themselves against the cold and drizzle.

As in the last national election in 2013, Lydia Gathoni — 102 years old and a Kenyatta stalwart — was first in line to cast her ballot. Before entering the polling booth, she led a short prayer for peace and for her political idol.

"Let God share with him the wisdom of Solomon," she intoned, clutching a rosary in one hand and her voter card wrapped in a grimy handkerchief in the other. "Let God prevail. Let God govern the country."

A Kenyan Samburu warrior leaves a polling station in Nkirish Cyril Villemain / AFP - Getty Images