KENYA POLLS: High turnout in Arusha as Kenyans cast votes
Posted Monday, March 4 2013 at 20:34
Scores of Kenyans living in Arusha and neighbouring regions cast their votes on March 4 at the city hall in an elaborate and incident free exercise.
The presiding officer from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Mr David Maina said the turnout was good because by 3 pm some 145 people out of about 200 who registered to vote in Arusha had casted their votes.
"That is about 72 per cent of those who registered", he said, adding that initial results would be made public immediately the counting was over. Polling ends at 5 pm.
The Tanzanian government offered the premises at Arusha which was one of the two polling centres for Kenyans in Tanzania, the other being at the Kenya High Commission in Dar es Salaam where 722 people were registered.
Other voting centres outside Kenya are in Kampala in Uganda, Bujumbura (Burundi) and Kigali in Rwanda.
"This is the first time Kenyans who are outside the country are able to vote and to start with we began with the East African Community (EAC) partner states", he said.
The IEBC was also targeting neighbouring regions such as Kilimanjaro and Manyara.
However, many Kenyans living in the northern regions of Tanzania had gone to vote in border towns such as Namanga where they had registered to vote, said Mr Maina.
Tourism industry players, whose main hub is Arusha, expressed hope that Kenya's General Elections will be free, fair and peaceful saying that they would not want a repeat of the 2007/2008 post election violence that rocked the country following disputed election results.
"We don't know who will win. But tourism has a lot of expectations to benefit from tranquillity in the region's largest economy if all goes well", said Mr. Cyrill Akko, an executive officer with the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (Tato).
He said Kenya was the second largest investor in Tanzania after the United Kingdom, adding; "Arusha is affected by anything happening in Nairobi because of day to day business interactions".
About 40 per cent of the 800,000 plus tourists visiting Tanzania annually pass through Nairobi and other Kenyan entry points. There was a slump in the number of visitors from overseas during the 2007/2008 election violence in which about 1,300 were killed and more than 650, 000 displaced.