Voting kicked off to a smoothly in Kwale County on Tuesday amid tight security.
Voters are electing president, members of the National Assembly and Senate, Members of the County Assembly and Governors.
According to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the coastal county has a total of 328,316 eligible voters spread in the four constituencies of Matuga, Msambweni, Kinango and Lunga Lunga.
The County Elections Manager Obadiah Kariuki says elections day voting began in earnest in the county’s 744 polling stations at 6 am.
He said voting started well and is going on in a peaceful and orderly manner across the county’s 20 electoral wards and that ‘all hands would be on the deck until when polls close at 5 pm’.
He added that voters who will be on the queue at the time of closing the polling stations would be allowed to vote.
Kariuki said they do not anticipate glitches as voters exercised their right without facing any hassles and commended residents for coming out in large numbers and in a peaceful atmosphere.
“Our staff worked tirelessly to put in place proper arrangements for a free, fair, peaceful and credible polling,” he said, adding that he hoped for an orderly election.
“Everything got off to a very smooth start and we had a few people waiting at the polls when they opened and we were excited about that,” said Jeremiah Musembi, a Presiding Officer at Baraza Park polling station in Matuga constituency.
On his part Kwale County Police Commander (CPC) Josephat Kinyua assured the general public that the security agencies in the region are well prepared to provide security.
Kinyua said the security agencies are working closely with the IEBC to ensure a smooth voting exercise.
“As for security presence, all the polling stations have an intensified presence of patrols by police officers to ensure order,” he said.
He assured that enough security personnel have been deployed in the region to provide security during this election season.
At the same time Former Cabinet Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere and Gubernatorial candidate on a Wiper party ticket commended the residents, security agencies and the IEBC for the conduct of the polls.
“Our democracy has matured and this general election is going to consolidate that democracy further,” he said after casting his vote at Ziwani primary school.
Deputy Governor Fatuma Achani of UDA and the only female gubernatorial candidate in the race expressed similar sentiments after casting her ballot at Kombani primary school.
“I find the general atmosphere quite calm,” she said after visiting some of the polling stations and watching people voting quietly.
Outgoing Governor Salim Mvurya urged the residents to go out in large numbers and vote noting that victory lies in their hands.
Others in the race to succeed Mvurya include Prof. Hamadi Boga (ODM), Eng Chai Lung’anzi who is flying the Pamoja Africa Alliance (PAA) ticket, Businessman Gereza Dena (KANU) and County Assembly Speaker Sammy Ruwa (Independent).
By Hussein Abdullahi