Kenya has deployed tens of thousands of police to ensure peaceful elections, a police spokesman said. Charles Owino said on Sunday that 99,000 police were out on the streets of major cities and towns on the eve of presidential and parliamentary elections in the East African nation. The authorities hope the move will help avert a repeat of deadly violence that engulfed the country after disputed elections in December 2007. Voters on Monday will cast six ballots for the president, parliament, governors, senators, councillors and a special women’s list. Some 23,000 observers, including 2,600 international monitors, will be deployed, according to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). But watchdogs such as Human Rights Watch have warned that the risk of renewed political violence is “perilously high”.
Tensions are already running high, with Kenyans of all religions expressing hope the polls, and their results, would not lead to renewed conflict. Many prayed for peace on the eve of the elections in which a top presidential candidate is facing a crimes against humanity trial over the violence.
The indicted candidate, Uhuru Kenyatta, who is also deputy prime minister, and his neck-and-neck rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, have publicly vowed there will be no repeat of the bloodshed.