Kenya’s presidential election drew millions of eager voters who endured long lines to cast ballots Monday, but the vote was marred by violence that left 19 people dead, including four policemen killed by separatists.
Officials urged voters not to be intimidated by the violence amid fears the impending election results could spark another round of the ethnic-related bloodshed in 2007, in which more than 1,000 people died after the vote.
The separatist group – the Mombasa Republican Council – had threatened election day attacks, and Kimaiyo said police were planning a raid “that will see the end of the MRC.”
The MRC believes Kenya’s coast should be an independent country. Their cause, which is not defined by religion, is fueled by the belief that political leaders in Nairobi have taken the coast’s land for themselves, impoverishing indigenous residents.
The election is the first presidential poll under a new constitution designed to prevent the ethnic violence of 2007-2008. Enthusiastic voters formed long lines throughout the country, and election officials estimated turnout at 70 percent of 14 million registered voters.