Kenyans have begun voting in an election rerun that has polarised the country and is likely to be fiercely disputed in the absence of the opposition leader Raila Odinga, who is boycotting the poll. In stark contrast to the first election, which the supreme court annulled last month, many polling stations in Odinga strongholds saw only a trickle of voters. In Nairobi’s Kibera slum, tangled wire and charred streets marked the spots where there had been sporadic outbreaks of violence overnight. Police fired teargas at opposition supporters who tried to set up barricades in front of a polling station, prompting them to lob stones at the officers. Similar scenes were repeated in the western towns of Migori, Siaya and Homa Bay.
The election is the latest act of a chaotic political drama that began when the supreme court overturned the victory of President Uhuru Kenyatta in the election on 8 August. It cited irregularities and mismanagement by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Kenyatta is almost assured victory after the veteran Odinga withdrew, citing fears the poll would be marred by the same flaws that saw the August vote overturned.
The boycott, in an acrimonious political environment marked by violence and intimidation, is likely to tarnish the credibility of Kenyatta’s victory and open the result to for further legal battles.