(Vatican Radio) Kenyans went to the polls on Tuesday in a general election pitting the current President Uhuru Kenyatta against opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Thousands of international observers have been monitoring the vote amid fears of a repeat of the violence that plagued the country following elections a decade ago.
Long queues began forming before dawn at over 40.000 polling stations across the country as Kenyans turned out to cast their votes in the closely contested election.
Although there are eight presidential candidates on the ballot paper, the real battle is between incumbent Kenyatta, the 55-year-old son of Kenya's founding president and his longtime rival, 72-year-old Odinga, son of the country’s first vice-president.
Kenyatta, who won the previous election in 2013 by a thin margin, is seeking a second and final term in office.
Despite allegations of vote-tampering, that last occasion was a largely peaceful affair, unlike the vote a decade ago which descended into ethnic violence across the country, killing over a thousand people.
Bishops call for calm
Ahead of this vote, Kenya’s Catholic bishops issued an appeal for peace, noting the relatively calm manner in which the political campaigns have been conducted.
They urged the security forces, the judiciary, the media and all those involved with the voting process to act with responsibility in order to guarantee “just, fair peaceful and credible elections”. The bishops also proposed a prayer novena for the nine days leading up to the vote.
Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is among thousands of international observers who have been monitoring the election process. Final results are not expected before Wednesday at the earliest.