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Amid Opposition Boycott, Kenyans Vote In Re-Run Of Presidential Election

Police dismantle a barricade set-up by protesters in the Kibera slum in Nairobi on Thursday.
Khalil Senosi
Police dismantle a barricade set-up by protesters in the Kibera slum in Nairobi on Thursday.

Updated at 4 a.m. ET

Clashes between police and stone-throwing youths occurred in some parts of the Kenyan capital on Thursday as the country went to the polls for the second presidential election since August amid a boycott by opposition leader Raila Odinga.

In the latest voting, supporters of Odinga have blocked some polling stations as police fired tear gas in clashes with the opposition in Kibera, a Nairobi slum that is a key stronghold of anti-Kenyatta sentiment.

Police also battled stone-throwing Odinga supporters in Kisumu, another opposition stronghold. They fired tear-gas and, Reuters reports, live ammunition into the air in an effort to disperse protesters.

NPR's Eyder Peralta reports from Nairobi: "[There] are already roadblocks set up across opposition strongholds. Some polling places have been barricaded and in Kisumu, voting materials are stranded because there are no election staff to take them out to their precincts. In large swaths of Kenya, however, people are queuing and casting ballots and security forces have begun moving in to restive areas."

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is seeking a second term, was announced the winner in the Aug. 8 vote, but irregularities soon surfaced and the Supreme Court subsequently nullified the results.

Odinga, who told his supporters not to cast ballots on Thursday, calls the vote a "charade."

Speaking on Wednesday with Eyder he said: "I think the time comes in the history of a country when people have to stand up and say no to impunity."

The Associated Press reports:

"Voting, meanwhile, proceeded in areas where President Uhuru Kenyatta has support, but fewer voters were turning out in comparison to an Aug. 8 election that the Supreme Court nullified because it found illegalities and irregularities in the election process.

Voters lined up before dawn at a polling station in Kenyatta's hometown of Gatundu and electoral workers prepared ballot papers by flashlight after heavy rains knocked out power to the site. Downpours also disrupted the delivery of ballot papers in Kenya's Kitui area, according to local media."

The BBC reports that about 70 people have been killed in violence since the August election.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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