Kenyans at the ballot to decide next president

Scenes from the church service attended by the President

Reaction to the result could partly depend on the performance of Kenya's electoral commission, which will collect vote counts from more than 40 000 polling stations.

The final days of campaigning for today's polls have been marred by the brutal murder of the electoral commission's IT head, Chris Msando.

Voting has begun in Kenya's election amid a huge military presence.

People are voting in Kenya's general election amid fears that the result could trigger communal violence.

"Vote and go home to wait for the results", the President said in response to a question about what his message to Kenyans was on election day.

Tuesday's election has been predicted as a battle between incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta battling to secure a second five-year term and his opponent and long-time rival opposition leader, Raila Odinga.

Odinga, 72, flagbearer of the NASA coalition, is taking his fourth and likely final stab at the presidency. In 2013, after Kenyatta again beat Odinga by a narrow margin, Odinga claimed he had been robbed of victory.

He called on the nation to build confidence in its new constitution and avoid the "needless pain and agony" prompted by the violence that followed the 2007 elections, when many believed Odinga was rigged out of victory and 1,200 people were killed. Some 19m voters will choose among 16,000 candidates for 1,882 positions-everything from president down to county-assembly member. This time around the stakes are higher, and many fear a repeat of the post-election violence a decade ago.

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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. But with elections dictated largely by tribal alliances, Kenyatta might still have the votes he needs to win.

She was able to vote at 06:00, when polling stations opened, and then opened her restaurant to serve breakfast to other voters.

"This one is mine", said mother Joan Awuor, as the fingernail of her sleepy 3-month-old son Ricken was marked when she voted. The process witnessed the use of the newly introduced biometric verification machines which some voters say it made the process longer.

Kenya's general elections kicked off on Tuesday, with almost 20 million eligible voters expected to cast their ballots at over 40,000 polling centers to elect public officials, including the president.

"We commend (election officials) for the good job so far. we also wish to commend security agencies for the professionalism displayed so far", he said in a news conference about an hour before polls were due to close at 1400 GMT.

A senior election official was also found dead in a forest outside Kenya's capital of Nairobi.

Hundreds of foreign observers, including former USA secretary of state John Kerry and former South African president Thabo Mbeki, as well as delegations from the European Union, are overseeing the election.

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