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Kenyan Authorities Indefinitely Delay Voting In Some Opposition Counties


In Kenya, officials have once again postponed presidential elections in some parts of the country because of security concerns. The Supreme Court threw out results of last August's elections and ordered a new vote that was supposed to happen on Thursday. But about 10 percent of polling stations didn't open because of violence.

It's paralyzing Kenya, which is a powerful U.S. ally and one of Africa's strongest economies. We're joined now by NPR's Eyder Peralta. And Eyder, tell us where you are and what you're seeing.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: So I am in Kisumu, which is one of the places that has not seen any voting. It's in western Kenya. But today, it's quiet. Today, actually, you know, life has gone on in a lot of ways because people were protesting against the beginning of what was supposed to be this rerun of elections. But because they've announced a stop to it, people have gotten back to some normalcy.

But yesterday was a very chaotic day. You know, the chairman of the Electoral Commission called off the elections because he said some of his staff had been tortured and hijacked. And when I got here to Kisumu, there were roadblocks where people were trying to keep election materials from coming in. I spoke to a man called David Otieno, who was manning one of those roadblocks. And he said they didn't want police in, and they didn't want election materials in. Let's listen to a bit of what he had to say.

DAVID OTIENO: We are very much tired with this oppression. We got - these people are coming in police regalia. We are not armed. Why are they profiling us? They have just separated us like Luo people. The Western people - they are killing us. Why?

PERALTA: But like I said, today, it's quiet. You know, people are trying to pick up some of the pieces. You know, I went to the local morgue. Three people have been killed since Election Day. We went to the hospital. Lots of people who were injured - broken bones, slashes from machetes. About 48 people were injured through the violence last night.

BLOCK: Goodness. And, Eyder, we heard the man you spoke with - David Otieno - just now mention his tribe - the Luo tribe. There was serious tribal violence during the 2000 - 2007 elections. And that, obviously, is still an ongoing concern.

PERALTA: It is. You know, but the action here in all of Kenya has really been police on people or people battling it out with police. But tribalism always is bubbling in this country. And yesterday, Raila Odinga - the opposition leader - gave a speech in Nairobi's biggest slum - in Kenya's biggest slum. And he really put tribalism at the forefront. He blamed an ethnic gang for burning and looting a school yesterday. And we saw chaos in Kawangware - another slum - where people fought against people.

BLOCK: Eyder, very briefly, how is the government reacting to all of this?

PERALTA: They're saying they're going to have zero tolerance for this - that if you stop people from voting, you know, you will face consequences.

BLOCK: OK. NPR's Eyder Peralta in Kisumu, Kenya.

Eyder, thanks so much.

PERALTA: Thank you, Melissa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.