Ballot papers for Kenya’s presidential election next week have begun arriving in the country, in a sign that the troubled poll will probably go ahead. The final batch of papers is scheduled to arrive from Dubai on Tuesday, less than 48 hours before Kenyans vote for a second time in less than three months to elect a president. There have been widespread doubts that the Kenyan election officials could overcome huge logistical obstacles to organise the election, taking place after the supreme court annulled the result of an election in August won by the incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta. That the ballot papers have had to be printed overseas – candidates and parties were unwilling to trust local firms – is evidence of the acrimony and mutual suspicion that characterises politics in Kenya.
However, despite a threatened opposition boycott, millions of Kenyans now look likely to queue again outside the polling stations in the Rift valley, on the plains of the Maasai Mara, in the historic coastal city of Mombassa and in the capital itself.
“I am looking forward to it. This time we will get it right, I think,” said Matthew Mwange, a shopkeeper in Kilimani, an upscale neighbourhood in central Nairobi.
In areas where support for opposition candidates is high, there was anxiety. “There is tension all over,” said Alphonse Wire, a community mediator in the Nairobi slum of Mathare.