Mar 4, 2013 / 12:37 pm
Kenya's presidential election drew millions of eager voters who endured long lines to cast ballots Monday, but the vote was marred by violence that left 19 people dead, including four policemen hacked to death by machete-wielding separatists.
Officials urged voters not to be intimidated by the violence amid fears the impending election results could spark another round of the ethnic-related bloodshed in which more than 1,000 people died after the 2007 vote.
The election is the first presidential poll under a new constitution designed to prevent the ethnic violence of 2007-08. Enthusiastic voters formed long lines around the country, and election officials estimated turnout at 70 per cent of 14 million registered voters.
The voting got off to a bloody start when a group of 200 separatists set a trap for police in the coastal city of Mombasa in the pre-dawn hours, Inspector General David Kimaiyo said. Four police were hacked to death with machetes, coast police boss Aggrey Adoli said.
The separatist group, the Mombasa Republican Council, had threatened election day attacks, and Kimaiyo said police were planning a raid "that will see the end of the MRC."
The MRC believes Kenya's coast should be an independent country. Their cause, which is not defined by religion, is fueled by the belief that political leaders in Nairobi have taken the coast's land for themselves, impoverishing indigenous residents.
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