See the chaotic scenes as Kenya elects new president
DUBAI — Kenya’s Election Commission ordered all polling stations closed for the first time on Thursday as thousands of Kenyans protested the result of an opposition campaign boycott, which many believe was rigged in favor of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Kenyans cast their ballots as the country remains gripped by widespread protests and violence and a second round of polling that has already drawn criticism from international partners.
“Elections have never been peaceful in Kenya before. This is the first time a country has been put to a vote without the presence of the police and the army, in the country,” said Kenneth Matenga, chairman of the Kenya Red Cross.
“It is difficult to imagine that any political party or individual could have won these elections without violence.”
In another sign of the impact of protests on the process, the electoral council on Thursday asked the public to vote a second time, which will allow the vote-takers to return to the polling stations after having been in the crowd for hours, a source close to the commission said.
The commission, which oversees Kenya’s parliamentary elections, has also postponed the vote on a controversial bill that would further politicize the electoral system for another day. The bill would criminalize acts of violence on election day.
A number of prominent opposition leaders have stepped down from the electoral council after being charged with criminal acts committed during the violence which has marred the polls, including former Vice President William Ruto and former Kenyatta ally Raila Odinga. Odinga and Kenyatta met with the president and offered their apologies and accepted his decision to withdraw from the commission.
“No election, no nation, no freedom of the press, no democracy,” shouted a young man standing in front of the Kenyan Parliament in Nairobi.
Some protesters vowed to resume demonstrations until