Five years ago, disputes over election results in Kenya sparked weeks of ethnic violence in the relatively well-developed African country. More than one thousand people were killed, as supporters of rival candidates clashed.
This week, Kenya held its first presidential election since the bitter 2007 contest — and the first under a new constitution. More than 70 percent of the registered voters cast ballots. Everyone is now waiting to see whether Kenya can finish counting its ballots without descending into chaos. Complicating matters, presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto are both expected to stand trial at the International Criminal Court for charges relating to post-election violence in 2007.
Wangui Maina is a reporter for the Nation Media Group's Business Daily. She joined Global Journalist to provide an update on the Kenyan elections. And to provide additional context, Global Journalist host David Reed was joined in-studio by Randy Smith, the endowed chair in Business Journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism. He’s the author of the book, “A Kenyan Journey.”
On what the mood was like at polling stations
At 5:30 [in the morning] people were already out there. Some appeared to have slept in the lines. The polling stations opened and it was different. Previously [when we voted] the lines were according to our surname. But when we got there, it was according to our first names. That created a bit of commotion. People were disoriented for a minute and then we got into our lines and we stood. And it was camaraderie. It was fun and interesting. You talked to people and they told you their stories. The guy in front of me worked in Afghanistan for an international organization. He had refused to take his official leave day so he could extend it this week so he could fly in to vote. --Wangui Maina
On what the major issues of the election were
I'd say land, International Criminal Court [charges against Kenyatta and Ruto], corruption. And I don't know if you'd put tribe as an issue, but tribe is a major deciding factor for Kenya. I cannot say that it is in this election, but I will also not say that it's not happening. There are people that will vote along tribal [lines]. And we are seeing this in the results. --Wangui Maina