Kenyans are voting in a contentious presidential election rerun, boycotted by the country’s opposition leader.
Polls opened at 6am local time (3:00 GMT) and will close at 5pm (14:00 GMT). More than 19 million voters are registered to cast their vote.
The country is holding the rerun after the Supreme Court nullified the August 8 presidential poll results because of “irregularities and illegalities” in the voting process.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, 55, is seeking a second and final five-year term in office. He won 54 percent of the votes in the nullified poll.
His main challenger, Raila Odinga, who received almost 45 percent of the votes in August’s election, is boycotting Thursday’s vote.
Odinga, 72, said opposition demands to reform the electoral body following the court ruling have not been met.
After successfully challenging the results of the August poll, Odinga has called on his supporters to stay away from Thursday’s vote.
There were demonstrations against the vote in the opposition stronghold of Kibera in the capital, with Odinga supporters burning tyres and police firing tear gas at protesters.
At least one polling station in the neighbourhood was closed.
In Kisumu, Odinga’s stronghold, some polling stations were open but there was no sign of voters.
“Do not participate in any way in the sham election. Convince your friends, neighbours and everyone else to not participate,” Odinga told his supporters at a rally in Nairobi on Wednesday.
“We advice Kenyans who value democracy and justice to hold vigilance prayers or stay at home.”
Although Odinga supporters heeded Odinga’s call, queues had already formed at some polling stations in the Kenyan capital on Thursday before the sun had risen.
Amid tight security, Elastus Mains, a 40-year-old businessman, told Al Jazeera: “I queued up from 5am. It took me less than five minutes to vote. Very smooth. I’m happy with how it is going. I’m voting again because it is my democratic right. I never boycotted an election and will not do that now.”
None of the six other minor candidates competing against Kenyatta received more than one percent in the previous poll.
Esther Muhindi, a 43-year-old HR manager, said she was pleased with the process on Thursday.
“I voted because the court told us to. I hope there is no more repeats. This time the queues were moving fast,” she told Al Jazeera.
Thabo Mbeki, former South African president and the head of the African Union’s monitoring mission to Kenya, said that observers were keeping a close watch on developments.
“We have been to two polling stations so far. In the two places we have been there are lots of people who have turned up to vote,” he said in Nairobi. “We need to have a look at two more stations to see how the population is responding.”
Last-minute bid to cancel vote fails
Kenyatta is the country’s founding father while Odinga, a former prime minister, is the son of the country’s first vice president.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court was unable to raise a quorum of judges to decide on whether the poll should go ahead.
The petition was brought by three human rights activists who claimed the electoral commission is not ready to hold a credible poll.
The East African country has witnessed almost daily street protests following the announcement of August’s presidential election result.
At least 49 people have been killed in the political violence since the poll.
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