Passengers jostled with ticket touts and hawkers at Kenya’s main bus stations on Thursday as thousands started leaving cities before next week’s vote, some because they are registered in rural wards, others because they are scared of violence.
Jitters over the Aug. 8 polls, which come a decade since 1,200 people were killed in ethnic unrest after a disputed election, intensified this week with the torture and murder of a senior election commission official.
Government officials say the situation has been caused by the spread of fear by politicians which is making some Kenyans choose to live where they perceive it’s more peaceful.
“ I think from the government end the best we will do is to assure Kenyans that they need to stay calm they need to stay where they are registered as voters and they need to trust that we shall protect them to actually vote,” interrior minister, Karanaja Kibicho said.
Voters in the East African nation of 49 million will pick a president, members of parliament and regional authorities.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is facing off against long-time rival Raila Odinga, was charged by the International Criminal Court with orchestrating the 2007 unrest, but the case against him and his current deputy, William Ruto, collapsed.