Long queues are forming in Kenya as voters wait to cast their ballots in a hotly contested election that pits incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta against the nation’s former prime minister.
“I have been here for around two hours,” one man standing in line at a polling booth in Busia County on the border with Uganda told CNN affiliate NTV. “I came at six in the morning to exercise my democratic right and bring change to this country.”
Raila Odinga, who’s running for president for the fourth time, served as prime minister between 2008 and 2013. As the candidate for the National Super Alliance party, he is one of eight presidential candidates and the incumbent’s main challenger.
Kenyatta, who leads the Jubilee Alliance and is seeking a second five-year term, is the nation’s youngest president at 55. If he loses, he’ll make history as the only incumbent Kenyan president not to win re-election.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) spokesman Andrew Limo said turnout “looks huge” so far and as votes are cast at the more than 40,000 polling stations.
Limo acknowledged claims of malfunctioning voting machines, which have circulated online, saying there have been “three or four cases of malfunction where the system needed restarting” but added that for the most part things have “gone well.”
“Little glitches here and there will be fixed as they occur,” he said.
The two top contenders are from political dynasties that date back decades.
The president’s father, Jomo Kenyatta, was Kenya’s first president while Odinga’s father, Jaramogi Odinga, served as his vice president. The pair led the nation after it gained independence from Britain in 1963.
This is not the first time the sons have run against each other.
Five years ago, Odinga contested the outcome of the election at the Supreme Court after Kenyatta narrowly defeated him. He accused his party of electoral fraud, but the court ruled against him.
Fast-forward to this year, and Odinga, 72, has accused Kenyatta of attempting to rig the election. Kenyatta has in turn said Odinga is attempting to divide the country.
To win the election outright, a candidate must gain 50% of the votes, plus one — as well as at least 25% of the votes in half of Kenya’s 47 counties.
If no winner is declared, the election will go to a runoff, which would be a first in Kenya’s history.
More than 11,000 polling stations — around a quarter of the total — are without decent mobile coverage, meaning returning officers have to use satellite phones and other means to transmit results.