Kenya polls set for December 27

Kenya will hold presidential and legislative elections on December 27, the electoral commission announced on Friday, days after President Mwai Kibaki dissolved the Parliament.

Commission chief Samuel Kivuitu said 14 248 838 Kenyans have so far registered to vote in the one-day exercise, the fourth since Kenya reverted to pluralism in 1992.

Voters will elect a president, 210 MPs and 2 484 municipal leaders across the country.

“The election proper should be held on 27 December starting from 6am [local time] to 5pm,” Kivuitu told a press conference in the capital, Nairobi.

Four presidential candidates have entered the fray, including incumbent Kibaki, opposition figure Raila Odinga—who leads latest opinion polls—former foreign minister Kalonzo Musyoka and city evangelist Pius Muiru.

The election panel will bar 183 222 voters, who have double-registered, from participating in the polls.

Political rallies have largely been peaceful except for isolated clashes, one of which resulted in the death of one person in western Kenya early this month.

Kivuitu called for restraint during the campaigns in the country where ethnically instigated violence has erupted prior to elections.

“The electoral commission calls upon all participants in the election campaign to observe peace and decorum,” he said.

Analysts have described the election as a “watershed” since it pits Kibaki against former allies such as Odinga, whom he fired in 2005 for successfully campaigning against government-backed constitutional reforms.

Kibaki, who last month launched the Party of National Unity, a coalition of several parties including 2002 runners-up the Kenya African National Union, comes from the economically and demographically dominant Kikuyu tribe.

Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement comes from the western Kenya Luo tribe, which appears to have joined forces with the Luyha tribe against the Kikuyu.

Kibaki, who is seeking a second and final term in office, has won plaudits for revamping the economy and introducing free primary education.

But his record has been blemished by two major graft scandals which cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars.

Odinga (62) has pledged to devolve power to the grass roots and fight systemic graft.—AFP

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