Kenyans Vote in Presidential Election
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
NPR's Gwen Thompkins is at a polling station in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. And Gwen, what are you seeing?
GWEN THOMPKINS: The people here are very motivated, and many of them came well before 6 a.m., which is when the polling station was supposed to open. Now, it didn't open until eight, which is feeding a lot of suspicion on the ground here, that there have been efforts to rig this election, that there've been efforts to nullify their votes - efforts on the part of the government, which, of course, is headed by the incumbent, President Mwai Kibaki.
INSKEEP: I suppose you should mention that elsewhere in Nairobi, Odinga himself, the opposition candidate, when he went to vote, he claimed that he was told he wasn't registered. Now, the government tells a different story, but it does seem the ground is being laid for a lot of doubts about the results of this election.
THOMPKINS: But the challenger, Raila Odinga, has spent many, many, many weeks sort of hitting hard on this idea that there are going to be irregularities in this election, which has created a real sense of paranoia on the ground.
INSKEEP: What's the difference between Odinga and President Kibaki?
THOMPKINS: Odinga is a long-time MP, a long-time parliamentarian from this very area, Kibera - and Mombasa is the larger area that he is representing. And he's been a long-time truth sayer in this country. People say that without Odinga, you know, Kenya would not be enjoying the democracy and the free speech that it enjoys today.
INSKEEP: And just give us a little broader view, if you can, of the country that you're in on this election day, Gwen. How is Kenya doing compared to other East African nations, other African nations?
THOMPKINS: Well, Kenya is doing well, compared to its neighbors in the region. I mean, it's the largest economy in East Africa. It has a stable society, a stable government. But like clockwork, every five years, when there's an election here, there is an awful lot of violence. And just a case and point, Steve, just in the last couple of days, three police officers were stoned to death in western Kenya by people who were suspecting that these police officers were representing government efforts to rig the election.
INSKEEP: NPR's Gwen Thompkins is at a polling station in Nairobi, Kenya, where a presidential election is taking place today. Thanks very much, Gwen.
THOMPKINS: Thank you, Steve.
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