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Faith Nyasuguta 

Logistical delays and a failure of the identification kit in some parts of Kenya marred a largely peaceful election day in Kenya.

Polls were officially closed at 5pm local time but voting was extended in places that opened late.

This vote follows an intense campaign dominated by debates about living costs, unemployment and corruption.

The frontrunners for president are ex-Prime Minister Raila Odinga and incumbent Deputy President William Ruto.

Kenyans were also electing a new parliament and local administrations.

So far, the electoral commission is yet to announce the total turnout, but by 16:00 (13:00 GMT) – an hour before polls closed – just over 56% of the 22 million registered voters had cast their vote.

A top election official in Kenya’s central region of Nyeri said the turnout has been low in that part of the country compared to 2017.

Low turn up of voters has been recorded in many parts of Kenya. /AEM/

The counting of votes, which takes place at the polling stations, started soon after they closed with the collation of the presidential votes a priority.

Earlier, Odinga was mobbed by supporters when he went to vote in Kibra – one of his strongholds in the capital, Nairobi. He did not address the press, but his wife, Ida Odinga, said he was “upbeat about the election”.

When Ruto voted in the town of Eldoret in the Rift Valley he pledged to accept the election result.

“I think for the first time in the history of multi-party democracy in Kenya, all the candidates have undertaken that they will accept the outcome of the results,” he told the BBC.

In 2007, a dispute over election results led to weeks of violence leading to the deaths of an estimated 1,200 people and forced about 600,000 people to flee from their homes

On Tuesday, there was some frustration among the early morning voters at a polling station in a primary school in the Westlands area of Nairobi.

They were blocked from entering the compound of the school for 90 minutes.

The reason for the delay was not clear and some people started chanting: “We want to vote!”

Voters line up in Thika /AEM/

“I was here very early. It’s been disappointing that we got here early and had to wait for a long time,” voter Alex Kipchoge said.

When voting did get under way, however, the process went well.

“I was quite excited. I’ve been waiting for this for quite a long time and I’m happy that I’ve actually had the chance to vote,” first-time voter Abigail Awili said.

In the coastal area of Mombasa, some parts of the north-east of the country and in parts of Kakamega county, in the west, some electronic fingerprint scanning kits failed to work.

However, the electoral commission said that nationwide only 200 broke down out of a total of more than 46,000.

The results of the last presidential election in 2017 were annulled after the Supreme Court ruled that the electoral commission had not followed the law when it came to the electronic transmission of the vote tallies from the polling stations.

Judges ruled that “illegalities and irregularities” had taken place.

A re-run was won by Mr Kenyatta, but boycotted by Odinga – the main opposition candidate at the time.

The chairman of the electoral commission, Wafula Chebukati, who was also in charge of the 2017 vote, has frequently tried to reassure Kenyans that his team will be up to the task this time.

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Faith Nyasuguta

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