Kenyan election marked by large turnout, sporadic violence reports

(Voters wait in line to cast their ballots in a school yard in the Mlango Kubwa ward of Nairobi, March 4, 2013.)Photo: Reuters / Julia Sestier

Kenyans went to the polls on Monday in a closely watched and largely peaceful national election marked by a large turnout, long queue lines and what appeared to be an two incidents of isolated violence in the coastal region.

Long lines of waiting voters were seen around the country, The Associated Press reported.

The delays were attributed to anti-fraud fingerprint voter ID technology being used for the first time. The AP report stated that the technology broke down in many locations.

At the Kibera slum in Nairobi, about 1,000 people stood in several lines at one polling station before daybreak, the report stated.

Observer Christopher Kibazanga, from a a Ugandan group called the National Consultative Council said he was impressed by the turnout.

"This can only be likened to South Africa when (President Nelson) Mandela was elected. The people have turned up in large numbers. The spirit of patriotism and nationalism has come back. I think this is a perfect process," Kibanzanga told AP.

Violence marred the day, however.

Hours before voting began, Machete-wielding gangs killed nine security officers in the nation's coastal region while six of the attackers were also killed, regional police chief Aggrey Adoli tod Reuters.

The attacks took place in Mombasa, the largest coastal city, and nearby Kilifi. Senior police officers told Reuters that the blame for the incidents fell on members of the Mombasa Republican Council, which wanted a referendum on secession instead of a national vote.

There was no formal claim for the violence by the attackers so far, according the report.

Post-poll violence in 2007 - blamed on tribalism - resulted in the deaths of more than 1,300 people and more than 250,000 displaced.

Ahead of the vote there have been numerous calls to avoid that type of violence. As part of those efforts, the head of Kenya's Anglican Church urged all Kenyans to pray for peace, unity and tolerance.

The Rev. Eliud Wabukala called on Kenyans to "overcome the lingering bitterness' of the previous election-related violence.

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