ready for obama victory

CHICAGO - Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama yesterday cast his ballot in his home city of Chicago with his young daughter Malia by his side.

CHICAGO - Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama yesterday cast his ballot in his home city of Chicago with his young daughter Malia by his side.

In a historic vote that could make him the first black US president, the Hawaii-born Illinois senator, joined by his wife Michelle Obama and his young daughters Sasha and Malia, was greeted at a Chicago polling station in a school gymnasium by dozens of reporters and photographers.

Obama, who is leading Republican John McCain in national polls, showed his daughter his ballot and smiled as he cast his vote.

In western Kenya yesterday, relatives, friends and a bull ready for slaughter were massed around the homestead of Barack Obama's late father, awaiting a hoped-for victory for their new favourite son.

Kenya, where the Democratic White House hopeful's father was born, has temporarily changed its clocks to US time, with many determined to stay up all night to watch television coverage of the US election results.

The rutted, dusty road leading to the Obama family home in the rural village of Kogelo, about 60km north of the provincial capital Kisumu, was being paved by the government and technicians were wiring up a giant TV screen for election night.

"The reason we are here is that we are looking forward to a great day to celebrate," said Malik Obama, the candidate's stepbrother, rubbishing any suggestion that his relative might not become the first black US president.

"We are not considering that possibility. I am not," he said confidently.

Security is tight at the homestead of Obama's step-grandmother, Sarah Obama, where police have set up camp, providing 24-hour security.

Obama was born in Hawaii where his father, whom he is named after, was studying at university and had a short marriage with a white American student, Ann Dunham, before returning to Kenya where he died in a car crash in 1982.

Leading in US opinion polls over Republican rival John McCain, Obama received some added support in Kenya with special prayer sessions and even a victory prediction from a local witchdoctor.

And in a firm show of support, Kenyans turned out in their hundreds in Kisumu to take part in mock US elections, which organisers not surprisingly said looked set to crown Obama. - Sapa-AFP

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