Former US Secretary of State John Kerry in Kenya ahead of General Elections, Calls for calm, free and fair Elections

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, meets with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, meets with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta

NAIROBI, Kenya -The timeline of what is expected after tomorrows Kenya’s general elections can only be known after vote counting has ended. Though most parts of Nairobi remains highly empty with much isolation, government authorities ascertain, all will end well.

At the border, scores of Kenyans loaded with luggage’s and children were the whole of Sunday and Monday morning seen crossing the Busia and Malaba borders for what activists described as ‘shelter for safety’. Scores of those seen and interviewed by Kenyan media at the taxi parks in Nairobi and leading counties such as Nakuru, Eldoret, Kiambu, Bungoma, Naivasha, Machakos, Kakamega and Kisumu revealed that they are scared over a repeat of the 2007 after elections mayhem that left thousands dead.

But a gist and ray of hope came from former US Secretary of State John Kerry who was optimistic that Kenya will rise after tomorrow’s general election.

Kerry who is in Kenya is leading a delegation of international observers from Carter Centre and the European Parliament urged the leaders to provide an atmosphere that will enable a peaceful process.

“We are here to support Kenyan confidence in all the institutions. It is up to Kenyans to make a choice and this can only be achieved in a free, fair and transparent election process,” Kerry told the press in Nairobi on Monday.

“We wish to express our admiration for efforts of your judicial system to resolve disputes. In just a span of one month, we can note they have done tremendous work,” Kerry said shortly after he paid a courtesy call at the Kenya’s supreme court.

Kenya’s Chief Justice David Maraga said the judiciary is ready to handle disputes arising from the polls.

“We have cleared all pending cases and now shift focus to tomorrow,” he said.

Tomorrow’s general election carries with it bitter and sweet surprises for many big names in Kenya’s political circles.

To some, it could mark the end of political careers while to others it will be a foundation to build a political dynasty, depending on whether NASA or Jubilee wins.

Apart from the tight race between President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is seeking to defend his seat for a second and last term, and his main rival Raila Odinga, who is making his fourth attempt for the top seat, there are several other races that will be keenly watched.

For the President and Deputy President William Ruto, this election means a lot. If they lose, they will go down in the history of Kenya’s presidential elections as having failed to recapture their seats.

The first two presidents, Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Moi, served for more than two terms each, while Mwai Kibaki went for 10 years after the Constitution limited the presidential tenure to two terms of five years each.

On Saturday, addressing their final rally in Nakuru, Uhuru pleaded with the electorate to give him a second term in office, saying he had delivered on his 2013 pledges.

He pointed out that while the country has witnessed unprecedented development in the last four-and-a-half years of his administration, Kenyans should expect even more transformational projects in the next five years once they give him a second chance.

For Raila, in case NASA loses the election, it could mark the end of a long political career spanning many decades, mostly spent on the opposition. And for his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka, he may also have to contend with another five years out in the cold.

Raila’s win on the other hand will be a successful end to a political career that faced three ballot defeats. He was a presidential candidate in 1997, 2007 and 2013.

The fight for governorship, Senate, member of the National Assembly, Woman Representative and in some cases MCA will be an epic battle between independent candidates, those from affiliate parties and from rival parties.

In Kisumu, Governor Jack Ranguma is going all the way against Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o, despite ODM requests that he steps down for the senator. Migori county will witness fireworks between Governor Okoth Obado (ODM) and Ochillo Ayacko (Independent).

In Siaya the contest is between Governor Cornel Rasanga (ODM) and former MP Nicholas Gumbo.

Snapshot ahead of the elections

To avoid long queues at the polling stations on Tuesday, the electoral agency has developed several solutions for the General Election.

Unlike in the past, when the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) used surnames to organise the queues, this time round, they will be on a first-name basis.

This, the agency believes, will ensure ease in accessing the polling stations and casting the ballot.

To avoid bottlenecks during entry, there will be multiple entrances to the polling stations that will be clearly marked.

The IEBC has also capped, as per the law, the number of people at a polling station at 700, further reducing the time one will queue to vote.

At the polling station, the IEBC will display a sample of the ballot paper for voters to familiarise themselves with the voting procedure before they are actually issued with the ballot papers.

Ballot papers
The ballot papers are in different colours.

That of the presidential election is white, member of Parliament (green), member of the county assembly (beige), senator (yellow), woman representative (purple) and blue for governor.

The votes will be counted and tallied and the results transmitted in that order.
In the event that a voter realises that they have marked a ballot paper wrongly, they can get up to two more to correct their mistakes.

“You get only a maximum of two,” IEBC communications manager Andrew Limo said, adding with a light touch: “You cannot be a professional ballot ruiner.”

These measures, the IEBC believes, will further reduce the number of spoiled votes once the ballots are cast.

To vote, you need only show your national identity card or passport — whichever you used to register as a voter.

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