Vote in Nairobi ′peaceful, a bit impatient′ | Africa | DW | 04.03.2013
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Vote in Nairobi 'peaceful, a bit impatient'

Kenyans were voting in general elections on Monday that opened on a tense note with the killing of at least 15 people in Mombasa, some five years after polls ended in bloodshed. DW spoke with an election observer.

Heiko Meinhardt is an election observer, who is following the 2013 polls in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

DW Can you describe what you saw at the polling stations?

Heiko Meinhardt: I toured a number of polling stations since this morning, I think about 14 stations with a number of streams. I saw long queues of voters waiting patiently to cast their votes and it was generally very peaceful, a good atmosphere, but people were a bit impatient because voting was proceeding slowly.

Were all registered voters given the chance to cast their ballots before the polling stations closed?

Yes, they are now closing, 5 o'clock Kenyan time, which is right now, but everybody who was in the queue before 5 o'clock has the right to vote even if it takes up to midnight.

And how confident are you that these Kenyan elections will be credible?

We will have to wait for reports from our teams on the ground all over the country. There have been reports of violence in Mombasa and in northern parts of Kenya, but here in Nairobi it has been mainly peaceful and orderly, but it is too early to say whether the vote is credible or not, because they have to do the counting, the tallying, after that we will be in a position to make an assessment.

Is there any news as to when the provisional results will be out?

The Electoral Commission said it should be after 48 hours, but by law the final result will have to be out by March 11. So there is still some time to go. Preliminary results might be out after 24 or 48 hours.

You mentioned that the voters are mainly peaceful. Did you notice any signs of aggression?

Not at all there. There is a lot of security here, but the security officers close to the polling station have been very helpful, very much in the background. I haven't come across any problems with them and the voters themselves, well, some of them are frustrated having waited in the queue in the hot sun for several hours and they might be a little bit impatient. They went to their stream only to be told they were in the wrong stream and they had to queue again at another place and that caused some frustration, but in the end they are all very patient and waiting in front of the polling station to cast their vote.

Heiko Meinhardt heads of a team of election observers from the German aid organization "Brot für die Welt," which is helping to monitor the polls with the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.

Interview: Chrispin Mwakideu

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