Kenya vote sees long lines; attacks kill at least 12
By Jason Straziuso and Rodney Muhumuza ,APNAIROBI, Kenya -- Multiple attacks against security forces in Kenya on Monday killed at least 12 people as Kenyans waited in long lines to cast ballots five years after more than 1,000 people died in election-related violence.
March 5, 2013, 12:35 am TWN
A group of 200 secessionists armed with guns, machetes and bows and arrows set a trap for police in the predawn hours, killing five officers, Inspector General David Kimaiyo said. One attacker also died. The group — the Mombasa Republican Council — had threatened election day attacks.
A second attack by MRC secessionists in nearby Kilifi killed one police officer and five attackers, Kimaiyo said. A Kilifi police official, Clemence Wangai, said seven people died in that assault, including an election official.
The country's top two presidential candidates condemned the attacks. Prime Minister Raila Odinga called it a “heinous act of aggression” during a historic exercise. Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta said he was discouraged by the news but he was sure the security situation would be brought under control.
Authorities flew in an additional 400 police officers to Mombasa to increase security. The U.N. restricted the movement of its staff on the coast because of the violence
“People with ill intent must be stopped by all means,” Kimaiyo said, explaining that he directed police to use their guns to stop further loss of life, a sensitive directive given that police killed more than 400 people during the 2007-08 postelection violence.
Long lines around the country left voters frustrated in the election's early hours. Anti-fraud fingerprint voter ID technology being used for the first time appeared to be greatly slowing the process. The technology broke down in many locations.
Odinga voted at an elementary school and acknowledged what he called voting challenges. He said poll workers were taking action to “remedy the anomalies.”
“Never before have Kenyans turned up in such numbers,” he said. “I'm sure they're going to vote for change this election.”
Kenyatta gave a conciliatory message intended to help Kenyans accept the election outcome without violence: “This nation will have a president and that president will represent all Kenyans.”
The country's leaders have been working for months to reduce election-related tensions, but multiple factors make more vote violence likely. The tribes of the top two presidential candidates have a long history of tense relations, and 47 new governor races are being held, increasing the chances of electoral problems at the local level.
Long lines began forming early across the nation. In Kibera, Nairobi's largest slum, some 1,000 people stood in several lines at one polling station before daybreak. Voter Arthur Shakwira said he got in line at 4 a.m. but left the queue over confusion about which line to stand in.