Kenyans Stockpile Food Ahead Of Vote
Nervous Kenyans stockpiled food and water yesterday and police prepared emergency first aid kits as families headed to their ethnic heartlands on the eve of an election many fear could descend into violence.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga, 72, who lost elections in 2007 and 2013, has already said President Uhuru Kenyatta, 55, can only win if his ruling Jubilee party rigs the vote, a stance that increases the chances of a disputed result and unrest.
Opinion polls before Tuesday’s presidential election put the pair neck-and-neck. A second-round run-off is possible if neither gains the 50-percent-plus-one majority. Kenyans will also vote for members of parliament and local representatives.
In 2007, Odinga’s call for street protests after problems with the vote count triggered a widespread campaign of ethnic violence in which 1,200 people were killed and 600,000 displaced.
The violence also hammered East Africa’s biggest economy as regional trade ground to a halt and tourists, the biggest source of foreign exchange, canceled holidays.
Much of the killing a decade ago was in Kisumu, a city of a million people, most of them from Odinga’s Luo tribe, on the shores of Lake Victoria.
On Sunday, its open-air markets and shops were packed with customers stocking up on last-minute essentials.
“We are fearful because before there was rigging and that led to violence,” said orange seller Christine Okoth.
Wilson Njenga, a central government official overseeing the western region, said police had received disaster equipment including first aid and gloves but insisted it was all part of normal contingency planning.