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News Wrap: Kenya’s Presidential Elections Marked by Long Lines and Violence

March 4, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Millions of people in Kenya voted for a president today, but 19 people were killed in a series of attacks. The election was seen as a test of democracy in the East African nation under a new constitution.

We have a report narrated by Inigo Gilmore of Independent Television News.

INIGO GILMORE, Independent Television News: Even before the first ballots had been cast, the bloodletting had begun. This was the scene early this morning in the coastal town of Kilifi, after security forces were attacked by dozens of armed men from a suspected militia.

At least four officers were killed in two separate attacks. And many more were caught up in the violence.

MAN: They hit me and slashed me with machetes. They told me they had been sent and had been given money by politicians to disrupt the polls.

INIGO GILMORE: Despite this violence, voting today passed off peacefully across most of the country with millions queuing patiently. Election officials said the turnout was very high.

But it’s the fear of what may come next following the results that is causing anxiety. Following elections in 2007 and claims of vote-rigging, more than 1,200 people died and hundreds of thousands were displaced in a horrific spasm of tribal carnage. Much of the fighting, like the voting, erupted along tribal lines, as armed young men from rival militias went on the rampage.

Among those accused of bankrolling the death squads is this man, presidential front-runner Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president. He has been charged by the International Criminal Court of crimes against humanity for his role in the tribal bloodletting five years ago. His trial was scheduled to begin as early as next month, just when he’s likely to face a runoff vote against the current prime minister, Raila Odinga. Odinga has mocked Kenyatta during the campaign, suggesting that if he won, he would have to run the country remotely from The Hague via Skype.

It may take up to seven days before the official outcome is announced.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In Pakistan, Shiites mourned the death of 48 people killed in a powerful car bombing in Karachi. At least 200 others were wounded. Thousands of people flooded the city’s streets to attend funerals for the victims of last night’s attack. They also appealed for protection against Sunni militant groups. Despite those pleas, gunmen killed two more people as they were leaving one of the funerals.

The U.S. government today began its first full week under the sequester. The $85 billion dollars in spending cuts took effect Friday. And President Obama promised today to minimize the effects on American families. House Republicans plan to vote this week on giving the military more money and largely exempting the FBI and the Border Patrol.

Stocks rose on Wall Street today, in spite of the fallout from the sequester. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 38 points to close above 14,127. The Nasdaq rose 12 points to close at 3,182.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Gwen.