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Open Features: Kenyan Indians Voting In General Elections

Kul Bhushan brings a report on the Kenyan elections.

Between 40,000 and 5,000 Kenyan registered voters of Indian origin are cast their ballots in the country’s general elections yesterday. Around half a dozen Kenya Indians are standing in these elections. Four are from Nairobi and others from upcountry towns like Kisumu on Lake Victoria.

A well-known Indian Kenyan, Kamlesh Pattni who converted to become Brother Paul and has served in jail, is standing from Nairobi’s Westlands and is opposed by Babblu Walji. Another candidate is a Sikh woman, Sonia Bedi from another Nairobi constituency.

According to Kenyan Indians in Nairobi contacted by phone long queues started to form around 2 a. m. - well ahead of the opening of poll stations in Nairobi and across Kenya. A few apprehensive Kenyan Indians went to vote early and then rushed to the airport to take a flight out of the country to be safe in case of violence breaking out when the results are announced.

But most Kenyan Indians are staying back confident that the elections will be held peacefully. Of course, they have stocked up with extra groceries and provisions as all shops and other establishments are closed today.

During the run-up to this crucial election, almost all presidential candidates addressed special meetings of Kenyan Indians at their religious venues in Nairobi to assure them about a bright future, peace and progress if they are elected. The Hindu Council of Kenya, the apex body of all Hindu and Sikh religious organisations, held these meetings attended by hundreds of Kenya Indians.

Kenya has over 100,000 people of Indian origin but a good number of them hold British, Indian Pakistani passports with a small number holding American and Canadian passports in Kenya.

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