An estimated 180,000 police officers and members of the security forces are being deployed across Kenya as the country prepares to vote on Tuesday in a fiercely contested presidential election.
Voters will either return the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta, who has been in power since 2013, or elect the veteran opposition politician Raila Odinga. Recent opinion polls have not indicated any clear leader in the campaign and turnout will be a key factor.
The country is braced for widespread unrest whoever wins, after a campaign marred by hundreds of violent incidents – including the murder of a high-profile election official – issues with new voting technology and widespread concerns about fraud.
A contested poll in 2007 led to more than 1,000 deaths, and violence could sweep the country again if the losing party refuses to accept the result.
At a church service near his home in Nairobi on Sunday, Kenyatta, 55, called for calm. “Do not allow anything to drive a wedge between you. You have been good neighbours and I urge you to remain so regardless of your tribe, religion or political affiliation,” the president said.
A Kenyan election officer in Nairobi prepares ballot boxes before they are transported to different polling stations.
Thousands of city dwellers have been returning to their home towns to wait out the aftermath of the poll in relative safety. Others have been stocking up on provisions in case of trouble. Streets have emptied and business has slowed.