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Millions of Kenyans faced a sleepless night as they started lining up under the stars in the early hours on Monday to vote in the historic national election to decide the path this country will take for the next five years.
In a polling station in the Kilimali area of Nairobi at 8 am, lines extended from inside the building to the main road, and they grew longer because of slow voting procedures. But it was a peaceful event, coordinated by inspectors and police.
Unlike previous elections, Kenyans will vote for six positions, including president and local governor, by biometric voting kits, which are designed to avoid election-rigging and delays in announcing winners.
Some election watchers say polling disruption, disorganization, vote-buying and ID card thefts have been verified in certain stations, but generally, the process went well.
But before the election, 12 people, including six police officers, were reportedly killed in an ambush in Mombasa, the large southeast port city. Police said that members of the Mombasa Republican Council, a secessionist group, staged the raid.
In the northeastern Muslim city of Garissa on Sunday, two people were killed, bringing the death toll from election-related violence to 14.
To ensure safety and order, more than 99,000 police officers have been deployed across the country. However, escalated violence and chaos normally follows the release of the election results.
This is the first general election after a new constitution was introduced in 2010 to decentralize political power and prevent a repeat of the 2007-08 post-election violence, which led to more than 1,300 deaths and made 600,000 people homeless.
The violence scarred the country and its people, and it reminded everyone of the importance of having peace and stability in this election, although security concerns are still paramount.
People began stockpiling necessities a week ago, and the sale of food and some other products has more than doubled, according to a cashier in a Nairobi supermarket.