Kenyan president urges people to vote peacefully

Kenya on a knife edge ahead of high-stakes elections

Election observers agree that the most critical aspect to the election's success is whether a biometric system of voter identification and tallying works on the day.

Tensions have soared in east Africa's richest economy as the campaign ended with the murder of a top election official, and Odinga has repeated claims the vote will be rigged.

The IEBC said that despite a "few technical hitches", they were happy with how the voting phase of this election process had gone, calling it a "watershed moment" in the nation's history of management of elections.

Many Kenyans still vote along ethnic rather than policy lines, but Kenyatta and Odinga have both signalled they are seeking support across the country's many communities.

Kenyans head to the polls for a closely contested election between incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta and his rival Raila Odinga.

"I feel good. I feel positive because we ran a positive campaign", Kenyatta said after casting his vote.

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"We appeal to our supporters to turn out in large numbers", said Presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

He managed to rise to prime minister after the 2007 elections but that post has since been abolished.

In 2007, more than 1,100 Kenyans died and 600,000 were displaced after a disputed election - an outcome neither side wants to see repeated.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) spokesman Andrew Limo said turnout looked "huge" as Kenyans cast ballots at more than 40,000 polling stations on Tuesday. If neither candidate secures more than 50 per cent of the vote then there will be a second round.

Thousands of worldwide observers have been monitoring the vote amid fears of a repeat of the violence that plagued the country following elections a decade ago.

Kenyan police said al-Shabab, extremist rebels from neighboring Somalia, are suspected of planting a roadside bomb that injured two people Monday and destroying the power pylon that caused the blackout in Lamu County.

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Mr. Odinga alleged voting irregularities after losing to Mr. Kenyatta in the 2013 election and took his case to the Supreme Court, which ruled in Mr. Kenyatta's favour by saying the election was valid.

But a quarter of polling stations are apparently outside cellular data range.

The election is set to be the final showdown of a dynastic rivalry that has lasted more than half a century since the presidential candidates' fathers Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Odinga went from allies in the struggle for independence to bitter rivals.

Voters formed long queues at many polling stations before dawn, waiting for the chance to cast ballots in a tightly contested race for the presidency as well as for more than 1,800 elected positions, including governors, legislative representatives and county officials.

Worries like these are common around election time in Kenya. In some parts of the country, voters lined up outside polling stations at 3am, hours before booths officially opened. "No matter the result in this election, we must stand together as one people".

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