by Ronald Njoroge, Fabian Mangera and Stephen Ingati
NAIROBI, March 4 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's electoral officials on Monday decried the few cases of insecurity that have affected the voting process in some parts of the country.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Issack Hassan told journalists here that despite a few isolated cases in the coast and northern Kenya, the response of the security agencies has been commendable.
"The commission will ensure that the electoral exercise continues smoothly so that Kenyans can choose their leaders," Hassan said during the first press conference by the IEBC since the elections began early Monday.
"Despite the incidents, we appeal to the voters not to be cowed or intimated by acts of lawlessness that are intended to cause despondency and disenfranchise the voters," he said.
Hassan's remarks come as at least 14 people were killed in separate incidents in the coastal and northern regions. However, these incidents have no deterred voters who have formed long queues ready to cast their vote.
The remarks also came as tension remained high in the border town of Mandera for the better part of the voting day on Monday in following twin explosion.
In the first incident that occurred along the Mandera DEB Road, one person was seriously injured when a hand grenade that was lobed targeting military track landed on him.
The second explosion that occurred at Bula Mpya Primary School, an Improvised Electronic Device was hurled a few meters from a long queue of voter was but nobody was injured.
Mandera County Commissioner Michael Ole-Tailal while confirming the incident said the attacks that happened about a kilometer apart were targeting the police officers and the voters.
"It is clear that those who hurled these grenades were targeting the police officers who were driving along the road and are part of the officers who have been deployed to enhance security in the county," Ole-Tailal told Xinhua on Monday.
He said that the grenade was lobbed by a person who was standing in the crowd. He said that one person who was walking a few meters from where the incident took place was seriously injured on his right hand and that had been taken to the Mandera district hospital where he is receiving treatment.
Tailal said that a contingent of security officers were on high alert at all the polling stations in the county and at the border to enhance security.
"Our officers who remain alert on the ground will not hesitate to arrest anybody who will try to disrupt the exercise, we are appealing to the voters to come out in large numbers and participate in the voting exercise," said Tailal.
He said that no arrest had been made in connection to the two incidents and appealed to the locals to volunteer any information that would assist arrest those behind it saying that the one who hurtled it was in the crowd.
The incident comes barely three days after seven people were killed in Rhamu town in Mandera east. They were killed after clashes erupted following death of a prominent business man who belongs to one of the clans in the area.
Meanwhile, observer groups from the African Union, The Carter Center, the East African Community, Intergovernmental Authority on Development, COMESA, International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, the Commonwealth, and the EU have called on Kenya's political parties and candidates to abide by the Electoral Code of Conduct and to respect their commitment to nonviolent participation in the electoral process.
"We also trust that the government of Kenya and the security forces will secure all stakeholders in a transparent and impartial manner," they said in a joint statement issued in Nairobi on Monday.
The observer groups also called on all Kenyans to respect the right of fellow voters to choose their elected representatives free from fear of intimidation or violence.
"The observers hope that all political actors will abide by the rule of law and allow the Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission to conduct the polling, counting and tabulation process. "
The observer groups urge anyone with a complaint about the electoral process to follow the established judicial procedures.
The statement comes after the presidential candidates voted for the historic elections with each expressing optimism they will emerge winners in the tenth election since the country's attained independence in 1963.