Violence mars Kenya elections

NAIROBI - Election-related violence, voter intimidation and misuse of public funds are rampant in Kenya, a human rights group said yesterday, just more than a week ahead of elections seen as the closest race in the country's history.

NAIROBI - Election-related violence, voter intimidation and misuse of public funds are rampant in Kenya, a human rights group said yesterday, just more than a week ahead of elections seen as the closest race in the country's history.

At least 70 people have been killed and about 2000 families displaced ahead of the closely watched polls, sparking fears that worse is yet to come in the ordinarily peaceful country as the December 27 vote nears.

"Violence continues to characterise the election campaign and has led to loss of lives," said Kamanda Mucheke of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

Because of continued clashes about 20000 people risk being disenfranchised, he said.

Mucheke said intimidation was taking place around the country, with supporters of the opposition being harassed, attacked and in some cases killed.

Earlier reports said a 15-year-old boy wearing the president's Party of National Unity (PNU) shirt was killed by supporters of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

Mucheke said millions of shillings of public money had been used illegally by the government during the campaign.

President Mwai Kibaki, running on a PNU ticket, is seeking a second five-year term but latest polls have shown him neck-and-neck with opponent Raila Odinga of the ODM. - Sapa

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