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 Monday, 23 December, 2002, 23:55 GMT
Kenya's election violence condemned
Nairobi residents stand next to a Kanu election poster
The Kanu party's 39-year reign may soon be over
The human rights organisation Amnesty International has expressed concern about incidents of violence in Kenya ahead of this week's general elections.

An assortment of weapons has been used in the attacks, including sticks, stones, a sword and [...] automatic assault rifles

Amnesty report

The London-based organisation said in a statement that Kenyans may not be able to vote freely because of intimidation.

Attacks on candidates and supporters are being carried out by all parties, according to Amnesty.

About 10 million Kenyan voters go to the polls on Friday, to elect a new president, parliament and local councils.

Mwai Kibaki from the opposition National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) is a clear favourite in the presidential election.

He will face the candidate of the governing Kanu party, Uhuru Kenyatta. President Daniel arap Moi, who has ruled the country for 24 years, is constitutionally barred from seeking another term in office.

Investigation

The Amnesty statement notes that there has been less poll-related violence than in previous elections in 1992 and 1997.

But it says voter intimidation is nevertheless widespread, "with attacks being suffered by candidates and supporters on all sides."

President Moi in Nairobi
Moi will step down on 5 January
The organisation accuses the opposition of attacking women attending a rally of the ruling Kanu party in Nairobi, and says opposition campaigners were injured by Kanu supporters near Eldoret.

"An assortment of weapons has been used in the attacks, including sticks, stones, a sword and in an instance in the Mount Elgon (area), a pistol and two automatic assault rifles," Amnesty said. Police on Monday urged Kenyans not to turn to violence, after seven people died in a suspected arson attack on a politician's home.

KENYA ELECTION
Moi is barred from running
Kenyatta is his chosen successor
Kibaki is ahead in the polls
A fire on Saturday killed the husband, daughter and five grandchildren of Dorcas Wambui, a Kanu politician in Othaya constituency, in central Kenya.

But police said they had arrested two people to help with the investigation, but are still unclear about the motive.

"We still have not established a political link in the fire but investigations are still intensely under way," a police spokesman said.

Smooth preparations

On Monday the electoral commission started distributing voting material to polling stations across Kenya.

an election commission official inspects ballot boxes
Ballot papers have been sent to polling stations
"Everything has been smooth and we hope there won't be any last minute hitches," commissioner Reuben Musonye told AFP news agency.

The materials included 20,000 ballot boxes, ballot papers, kerosene lamps and instruction booklets for polling officials.

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

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

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Andrew Harding reports from Nairobi
"Kenyan democracy may finally becoming of age"
Kenyans choose a new president

Key stories

Inauguration day

Moi steps down

Background

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See also:

23 Dec 02 | Africa
17 Dec 02 | Africa
13 Dec 02 | Media reports
12 Nov 02 | Africa
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