March 4, 2013 -
Several people have been killed in Kenya today as attacks against security forces erupted at two polling stations along the country’s coast. Adding to an already arduous election day, failing biometric verification devices have created massive lines of those waiting to vote.
Violence and bloodshed started early in the day. A group of 200 separatists, believed to be from the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), set a trap for police in Mombasa, and an AP tally of the violence has found that four police officers and three members of the MRC died in the attack.
The MRC has also been blamed for three more attacks in the nearby town Kilifi in which seven members of the MRC, six government officials and two civilians have died.
According to the Toronto Star, in an interview with the MRC from last week, the group “vowed they would only boycott the elections and fight their case in the courts, not on the streets.”
Five years ago, more than 1,000 people were killed in election-related violence and many Kenyans were hopeful that this year’s election would not also be marred by violence.
Late Sunday, police issed an alert indicating they had intelligence that criminals were planning to dress in police uniforms and disrupt voting in some locations. In addition, as the National Post reports, intelligence on the Somali-Kenya border indicated Somali militants planned attacks on polling stations. In additional, “a secessionist group on the coast” – likely the MRC – was threatening attacks.
In addition to the attacks, long lines at polling stations frustrated voters, as the biometric verification machines were in many cases either shutting down, or malfunctioning.
Accord to a report in StandardMedia.co.ke, “in the urban polling stations in Central Isiolo, more than 75 percent of the machines failed to work, forcing the IEBC officials to switch to the manual system.”
Reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, as 90 percent of eligible voters in the country had not yet confirmed details with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), many could have found mistakes in their records as they cast votes today.
In December, Ghanaians also took to the polls and used a biometric system to vote. In that instance too, failing technology was responsible for delays, as well as confusion and protest, after the fact. As a result of the delays caused by the biometric machines in Ghana, many voters had to return the following day to cast their ballot.