Kenyan police engage opposition supporters in running battles as they heed to Raila's call to boycott vote

Riots,tear-gas and bonfires marred the Thursday vote as opposition supporters kept away from voting centres

Kenyan police clashed with protesters from the Opposition party in parts of Nairobi and Nyanza regions who tried to block voting in the divisive Presidential repeat poll boycotted by the party's leader Raila Odinga.

Anti-riot police fired teargas at opposition supporters in Nairobi's Mathare and Kibera slums who tried to set up barricades in front of a polling station, prompting them to lob rocks at the officers.

In Migori town, another opposition stronghold, several hundred young men milled around on a main road littered with rubble and burning barricades. Similar scenes were observed in the western towns of Siaya and Homa Bay.

Kenyans began voting in Thursday's election re-run which has polarised the country and may be fiercely disputed in the absence of Mr. Odinga.

The National Super Alliance (NASA) party leader withdrew from the poll earlier this month citing fears that the poll would be marred by the same flaws which saw the Aug 8 vote nullified by the Supreme Court.

Mr.Odinga at the same time asked his supporters to keep off voting centres terming the Thursday vote a "sham Presidential election."

Despite the call for a boycott, one Odinga supporter Joshua Nyamori, 42, hoped to vote at the Kenyatta Sports Ground, but found no polling material or officials.

"Even if 500,000 do not want to vote, polling stations should be open, even for the 10 people who want to vote," he said.

"I am concerned because not all people are staying home by choice, some people are afraid of being attacked."

In his view, the decision of the opposition coalition not to take part in the vote was a "political mistake".


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