Obama urges Kenyan government to respect election result

Former president Mahama plays peacemaker in Kenya prior to hotly contested elections

"Any disputes around the election should be resolved peacefully, through Kenya's institutions and the rule of law", he added.

The violence that erupted following the 2008 election in which 1,200 people were killed came as a surprise to many worldwide observers.

However, some Kenyans are anxious by memories of the violent months that followed the 2007 vote and say there could be trouble ahead.

Almost 20 million Kenyan voters were scheduled to elect a new president for East Africa's richest economy in a tight race on Tuesday, which pitted incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta against his longtime rival, Raila Odinga.

In supermarkets, the aisles are cramped with shoppers pushing convoys of trolleys stacked high with provisions.

Some will vote there, where they are already registered, but others are trading their franchise for safety.

"Losers should accept results".

A decade ago, vote tallying was abruptly stopped and the incumbent president declared the victor, triggering an outcry from Odinga's camp followed by outbreaks of ethnic violence in which 1,200 people were killed and 600,000 displaced.

Many people are expected to vote along ethnic lines.

Polling booths opened before dawn Tuesday morning for the East African nation's 20 million eligible voters to choose between Kenyatta and his longtime rival, opposition leader Raila Odinga, in one of the most closely watched races on the African continent.

But hate speech flyers and text messages have been circulating, making Kenyans nervous.

Many Kenyans simply don't trust their politicians not to stir up trouble.

Elections in 2007 had culminated in a bout of violence that left over a thousand dead.

"I don't want to play a 50-50 betting game".

Elizabeth Obeiro, an accountant said she stocked up on supplies when she realized there might be a shortage because suppliers are not bringing products to the shops. 'Especially as both sides have convinced themselves that they are going to win and a delay will be taken as proof of rigging'. Five months ago, he put in extra orders for essentials like water, rice, batteries and frozen ground beef, anticipating the election-time rush.

Kenyans are voting to elect the president, members of the senate, county governors, county women representatives, members of county assemblies and members of parliament in 40,883 polling stations across the country.

Odinga, 72, the flagbearer for the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition, is taking his fourth and likely final stab at the presidency. "They had to finish with me before letting someone else in", Tom Bunde, a voter said.

"(If) a mother comes with a baby we give them a notice that they are not supposed to give other mothers the same kid to come and get favours in the name of jumping the lines", she said.

On the eve of the vote US President Barack Obama led global calls for peace in the country seen as a bastion of stability in east Africa, and a key partner in the fight against the Al-Qaeda linked Shabaab group in Somalia.

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