General Elections: Kenya, 2013

26 images Created 11 Mar 2013

In the early hours before dawn on Monday morning, Kenya seemed to be wide-awake in anticipation. Millions of voters across the country eagerly lined up at polling stations, some as early as one or two in the morning, to take part in the nation's fourth democratic multi-party election, and what many analysts say is the nation's most critical in recent history.

The March 4 election is Kenya's first general election since 2007, when post-election violence sparked by alleged rigging, ballot stuffing, and voter intimidation tore the country apart over tribal lines, leaving more than 1,000 dead and more than half a million displaced. A cloud of fear has hung over the country in recent weeks that ethnic violence could once again flare up, as it has in the past. But analysts and journalists alike have been claiming that there is a growing sense of hope that Kenya has learned from the past, reformed its institutions, and is ready to move forward.

In an effort to help reform the country's voting system and implement a widely popular new constitution approved in a peaceful 2010 referendum, this election has also been the most complex in Kenya's history. New biometric voter registration technology has been introduced to reduce fraudulent voting, and for the first time voters cast a total of six ballots to fill new county positions, part of Kenya's process of devolving central government control into 47 counties.

Election day itself was marked by unprecedented voter turnout- pover 86% followed by incredibly long polling station lines. Voters waited patiently, in some cases upwards of nine or ten hours under a sweltering sun, to cast their vote.

Despite the long lines, glitches in electronic voter registration systems, power outages, and some confusion over polling stations queues, voters remained by and large peaceful throughout the country.
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