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 Friday, 27 December, 2002, 10:27 GMT
Election diary: Mombasa's determined voters
A queue outside a polling station
Officials expect turnout above the 67% seen in 1997

Today is polling day and I am up and about ahead of the muezzin, who calls Muslims to prayer.

Mombasa residents seem determined to see the back of Mr Moi

There is a hint of rain in the air as I arrive at one of the polling stations in the central Mvita district, one of the town's hotspots.

Dark clouds hide the usually scorching sun of Mombasa and the faces of the buibui (black veil)-clad women walking like shadows into a primary school which has been converted into a polling station.

The school's surrounding is a sad commentary of what Kenya has become under President Daniel arap Moi.

Windowless classrooms with pot-holed roofs, walls peeling off.

A compound that looks like an abandoned refugee camp.

Final curtain

It is here, and in many other places like this across the county, that the final curtain is falling on the Moi era.

It has been a long time coming, and Mombasa residents seem determined this time to see the back of Mr Moi (who is barred by the constitution from standing) and his regime.

They have said it with songs, dancing and music on the campaign trail.

Most of the time the election rallies have resembled something close to a dancing carnival.

A voter in Mombasa
Voting - a woman's affair

There is none of the festival mood today as I move from one polling station to another.

Voting in Mombasa has always been a women's affair, but I see more men in khanzu (long white cotton gowns) than women in the queues.

Everywhere, I encounter composed faces that reveal nothing - from people, who for the past few weeks have been baring their souls and demanding change.

It must have finally dawned on these fun-loving people that voting is a serious matter.

On an historic day like this one, the rest can wait.

I guess behind these faces must lie the secret of the person who will be Kenya's next president.

Click here to read Gray Phombeah's first election diary
Kenyans choose a new president

Key stories

Inauguration day

Moi steps down

Background

INTERACTIVE GUIDE

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT
See also:

24 Dec 02 | Africa
23 Dec 02 | Africa
17 Dec 02 | Africa
13 Dec 02 | Media reports
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