x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Kenyans vote on landmark constitution

Voting starts on a proposed constitution to make institutions more democratic amid tight security aimed at preventing a repeat of deadly 2007-2008 post-election chaos.

Kenyans have began voting on a proposed constitution that would make their institutions more democratic amid tight security aimed at preventing a repeat of deadly 2007-2008 post-election chaos. Queues of several hundred people had already formed at several polling stations in Nairobi and elsewhere in the country when voting opened at 6am (3am GMT). About 12.4 million voters were called to the polls after a tense campaign rattled by a grenade attack on a "no" rally that left six dead on June 13 and ratcheted up fears of renewed political unrest.

Police said 70,000 security forces had been deployed across the country to prevent a repeat of the violence that flared up two and half years ago and encourage voters to turn out en masse. Backed by the president Mwai Kibaki and the prime minister Raila Odinga, the "yes" vote has a clear edge in opinion polls despite a feisty "no" campaign which has stigmatised the new text as favouring Muslims, abortion and certain tribes.

"Tomorrow, we cast our votes to determine how we want our country governed," Mr Kibaki said in a televised address yesterday, describing the referendum as a "defining moment in our nation's history". * AFP