LEAD: Polls open in Kenya's rerun presidential election; early turnout low

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - Voting in Kenya's repeat presidential election kicked off on Thursday with low voter turnout and pockets of resistance from boycotting voters.

Voting went on in President Uhuru Kenyatta's strongholds in several counties but the main opposition strongholds registered no voting.

The election is being held after the 1 September nullification by the Supreme Court of the 8 August vote because of "irregularities and illegalities".

A last minute attempt at the Supreme Court by the opposition to stop the election failed on Wednesday as only two out of seven judges who were to hear the petition turned up.  Chief Justice David Maraga said the Supreme Court could therefore not sit because of lack of quorum.

Police used teargas in Nairobi's Kibera neighbourhoods to disperse opposition supporters near the Olympic Primary School polling centre.

In opposition strongholds of Migori, Kisumu, Siaya and Homa Bay, there is voting.

Nairobi's polling stations registered low turnout with police keeping security in the precincts of the polling stations.

Thursday's vote is only to elect the president, while on 8 August there were six ballots.

The main opposition coalition, the National Super Alliance  (NASA), announced its boycott of the election on 10 October, saying the electoral body had stonewalled efforts to initiate reforms before the repeat elections.

It said the repeat election was a sign of Kenya's growing electoral dictatorship.

"We have said before, dictatorships once established do not reform themselves. We belong in the category of those who refuse to give up our basic rights and civil liberties, the right to speak out, to assemble, to protest, to organise, to travel freely in and out of the country, to associate, to criticise government without fear or favor and to live as free men and women," said a senior official of NASA.

The main opposition leader Raila Odinga said on Wednesday he was transforming NASA into a "national resistance movement" and embarking on a programme of civil disobedience and economic sabotage from 27 October.

President Kenyatta, who turns 56 on Thursday, said the repeat election would continue on schedule to restore peace and stability.

The president on Wednesday warned Odinga, to operate within the law as he assured voters willing to take part in the election that the government would provide protection.
-0- PANA AO/MA 26Oct2017

26 october 2017 07:07:13

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