President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged for calm during the election as polling stations opened across the country.
19 million Kenyans have registered to vote as they choose between Kenyatta, who has been in power since 2013, and Raila Odinga.
The last week of the election campaigns has been hit with controversies of rigging and the murder of the top election-official, Chris Msando.
“There was no doubt that he was tortured and murdered,” said Wafula Chebukati on Wednesday, chair of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
In a joint statement, the United States and the United Kingdom said they were “gravely concerned” by the torture and murder of Msando.
“The United States and the United Kingdom are gravely concerned by the murder of IEBC’s Systems Development Manager Christopher Msando. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and the entire IEBC team.” is said.
“It is critical that Kenya have free, fair, credible and peaceful elections on August 8, and protection for IEBC staff is essential to achieving this goal. We welcome the Government of Kenya’s commitment to investigating the murder. We have offered our assistance in the investigation.”
Results will be announced as early as Wednesday morning. The government have prepared for any potential violence by deploying 180,000 police officers and members of the security forces.
John Githongo, Political analyst and anti-corruption campaigner, said that the greatest tensions that might occur will be if there is any delay in announcing the results.
“Six days is allowed before the results have to be published. But taking that long is going to drive people crazy,” he said. “Especially as both sides have convinced themselves that they are going to win and a delay will be taken as proof of rigging.”
“Today is a very important day for Kenyans. We hope these elections will be peaceful, credible and transparent,” said Chief EU observer Marietje Schaake.