Mar 04 2013

Reuters: At least 15 killed on Kenya coast on election day

(Reuters) – At least 15 people were killed in attacks by machete-wielding gangs on Monday as millions of Kenyans voted in the first presidential election since a disputed 2007 poll unleashed weeks of tribal bloodshed.

Voting the tight contest passed off peacefully across most of the East African nation, although many of its 14.3 million voters were caught in long lines. Election officials said there was a high turnout without giving figures.

Officials and candidates have made impassioned appeals to avoid a repeat of the tribal rampages that erupted five years ago when disputes over the poll result fuelled clashes between tribal loyalists of rival candidates.

More than 1,200 people were killed, shattering Kenya’s reputation as one of Africa’s most stable democracies and bringing its economy, sub Saharan Africa’s fourth-largest, to a standstill.

Just hours before voting began, at least nine security officers in the restive coastal region were hacked to death in two attacks, and six attackers were killed, regional police chief Aggrey Adoli said.

Senior police officers blamed the attacks on a separatist movement, suggesting different motives to those that caused the post-2007 vote ethnic killings that could limit their impact.

As in 2007, the race has come down to a high-stakes duel between two candidates, this time between Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the loser in 2007 to outgoing President Mwai Kibaki. Both contenders will depend heavily on votes from their tribes.

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