Polls in Kenya have officially opened as more than 22 million people will vote for the presidency, members of National Assembly and the Senate.
Over 10,000 Kenyans across 12 countries will have the opportunity to vote in the presidential election; this is an increase from the 2017 election when only eight countries participated.
Voters in Nairobi have reportedly formed queues as early as 2 am local time as polls opened on 9 August, with early indications of a high voter turnout.
Chairperson of the Commonwealth Observer Group and former Jamaican Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, was among the first observers to witness polls opening at the Jamhuri High School polling station.
“We are here because Kenya is a valued member of our Commonwealth and its democracy means a lot to our family of nations,” he said.
“Our presence here is to remind stakeholders that democracy is a collective effort, and I am fortunate to be a part of this process.
“We urge everyone involved to continue to maintain peace during and after the elections.”
READ: Looming pressure on Kenya’s elections, Commonwealth calls for peace
Deputy President Ruto of the Kenya Kwanza Alliance and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga of the Azimio la Umoja Coalition are considered the top two contenders.
For the first time in Kenya’s electoral history, there are three women running mates out of the four candidates.
Commonwealth observers have been in Kenya since 16 July to observe the process until polls close at 5 pm local time. They will also supervise the counting of votes and results management processes.
Official results are expected to be released by the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) within seven days after the election day.
The President and all elective positions will serve a five-year term.
For the presidential ballot, the winner must secure at least 50 per cent of the votes, plus one extra threshold, and must secure 25 per cent of votes in at least 24 counties. If no candidate secures a majority, the two leading candidates will contest a run-off election within 30 days after the previous election.
Learn more: The Commonwealth Secretariat