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 Monday, 23 December, 2002, 11:54 GMT
Kenya gears up for elections
Posters for Uhuru Kenyatta
Mr Moi hopes Kenyatta will succeed him
Kenya's electoral commission will start distributing ballot papers in remote areas on Monday.

The decision was taken after some expressed fears that the papers might not arrive in time for Friday's general elections because of heavy rains.

Meanwhile, seven people have been killed in apparent pre-electoral violence, although correspondents say the campaign has been more peaceful than usual.

With President Daniel arap Moi barred from standing, the country is gripped by election fever.

Mwai Kibaki from the opposition National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) is a clear leader in opinion polls, and Mr Moi has promised to hand over power to whoever wins.

Mr Moi's Kanu party has ruled Kenya since independence 39 years ago but has split after Uhuru Kenyatta, son of the founding president Jomo Kenyatta, was chosen as its candidate.

Observers arrive

The chairman of the electoral commission, Samuel Kivuitu, said that some of the 30m ballot papers would be flown to polling stations in far-flung districts to make sure they arrived on time.

"We will then move on to other places, with Nairobi receiving its papers on Christmas Day," he was quoted as saying in the Daily Nation.

Campaigning for Mwai Kibaki
Kibaki has a good chance of being Kenya's next leader

Mr Kivuitu announced that voting would begin at 0600 (0900GMT) and end at 1800 (2100GMT) on 27 December and that counting would then start at the polling stations.

The Daily Nation reports that the first batch of 10m parliamentary and civil ballots arrived last Friday from British printers, and the remaining 20m arrived on Saturday.

Electoral preparations at the weekend coincided with the worst incident of violence in the country since the electoral campaign began.

Seven people were killed in a suspected arson attack on a ruling party politician's home on Saturday night.

Police are investigating a possible political motive behind the fire which killed the husband, daughter and five grandchildren of Dorcas Wambui, a Kanu politician.

The African Union has sent 16 observers to Kenya to monitor the elections.

"The observation will be in pursuance of the AU agenda with regard to respect for the basic principles of democracy, good governance, popular participation and the protection and promotion of human rights," the head of the team, VL Tonchi said.

Observers from the European Union, the Commonwealth and the Carter Centre have already arrived in Kenya for the elections.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  Andrew Harding reports from Nairobi
"He's a hardman, clinging ruthlessly to power"
Kenyans choose a new president

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18 Dec 02 | Africa
17 Dec 02 | Africa
13 Dec 02 | Media reports
05 Dec 02 | Africa
12 Nov 02 | Africa
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