The Latest: Surge of shopping in capital before elections
By The Associated Press
Aug. 07, 2017
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The Latest on Kenya's elections to be held on Tuesday. (All times local):
Many residents in Nairobi engaged in last minute shopping on the eve of elections and while others made travel plans to leave the capital city after Tuesday's vote.
Alfred Nganga, a press liaison for Nakumatt, Kenya's largest supermarket chain, said the volume of customers Monday was the largest in recent weeks.
Elizabeth Obeiro, an accountant said she stocked up on supplies when she realized there might be a shortage because suppliers are not bringing products to the shops. "It's not that we are foreseeing doom, it's just that we are stocking up because supplies in markets have dwindled and we do not want to have a dry spell," she said. Most people are avoiding that inconvenience, Obiero said.
Nairobi resident Mercy Kathambi said she will vote in the capital and then travel with her son to their ancestral home in Meru in central Kenya because she is fearful of violence after the elections following the murder of an electoral official last week.
Electricity was restored Monday evening in Lamu County after sabotage by suspected Islamic extremists knocked out power to an estimated 100,000 people. Residents say the blackout lasted from 5 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Dozens of Kenyan going home to vote in Lamu County, on Kenya's Indian Ocean coast, are being given military escorts following two suspected al-Shabab attacks.
Kenyan journalist Bernice Mbugua said Monday the military had initially prevented vehicles from heading to Lamu because of fears that al-Shabab militants, who have been operating in dense forest in the area, would attack vehicles. She said many of the vehicles were passenger buses filled with people going to their home areas to vote.
Kenyan police said al-Shabab, extremist rebels from neighboring Somalia, are suspected of planting a roadside bomb that injured two people Monday and destroying the power pylon that caused the blackout in Lamu County. Al-Shabab militants have vowed they will disrupt Kenya's elections Tuesday.
In New York, United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric commented on Kenya's impending elections in a press briefing: "As in all elections we urge the leaders in the various political parties to respect the outcome of the elections and use existing legal channels to address any grievances. We also call for impartial and human rights compliant conduct of the police and security forces as a cornerstone for peaceful elections."
A Kenya government official says suspected Islamic extremists have blown up an electricity pylon creating a blackout in the coastal Lamu County on the eve of national elections.
Kenya Power and Lighting Company Manager for Lamu County Bernard Munywere Kataka said Monday an electricity pylon carrying over 220 kilovolts of electricity fell after the blast. Police say a roadside bomb suspected to have been planted by Somalia's rebels al-Shabab in the same area injured two people travelling in a lorry. Al-Shabab have vowed retribution on Kenya for sending troop to Somalia to fight the militants.
Kenya will be conducting general elections Tuesday for the presidency and more than 1,800 elected officials, including governors, legislative representatives and county officials. Fears of violence were increased by the murder of an electoral official in charge of technology days ahead of the polls.
The chief justice of Kenya's top court says the judiciary will resolve any disputes that might arise from a tightly contested election on Tuesday.
David Maraga, president of Kenya's Supreme Court, said Monday that "we are ready to deal" with any problems after the vote pitting President Uhuru Kenyatta against main opposition leader Raila Odinga. Maraga spoke after meeting former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is among international observers who will be monitoring the election.
Odinga alleged voting irregularities after losing to Kenyatta in the 2013 election and took his case to the Supreme Court, which ruled in Kenyatta's favor by saying the election was valid.
Odinga was also a candidate in the 2007 election, which was followed by deadly violence fueled by ethnic rivalries.
AP writers Tom Odula and Christopher Torchia in Nairobi and Edith M. Lederer in New York contributed to this report.