April 21, 2017 / 5:55 PM / 3 years ago

Kenya's ruling coalition annuls party primaries after chaotic voting

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta gestures as he arrives for visit to the United Aryan Export Processing Zone textile factory in Nairobi, Kenya, April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya’s ruling coalition annulled party primaries held on Friday, the organization’s secretary general said, and reports of widespread anger over chaotic voting raised fears that poorly organized national polls in August could spark violent protests.

“Today’s have been canceled, those on Monday and Tuesday could still go ahead,” an official with the ruling Jubilee coalition told Reuters.

“The turnout was more than anticipated, we had anticipated it would be a party affair but it was more like a general election kind of turnout.”

The coalition had tried to hold primaries in 21 of the country’s 47 counties on Friday.

Local media showed pictures of angry voters burning ballots amid complaints that voting had started late in some areas and that some candidates’ names had been left off the ballot.

The party official said they were unable to comment on those reports because they were still unconfirmed by party officials.

Kenya is still haunted by violence that convulsed the country after a disputed presidential poll in 2007, when more than 1,200 people were killed in widespread ethnic violence.

In the most recent elections in 2013, electronic tallying equipment failed, stoking voter concerns of fraud. But this time the opposition took its complaints to the Supreme Court instead of the streets and there were only a handful of deaths in protests.

The opposition alliance, known as NASA, is also holding polls around the country this month but has staggered them over two weeks. It has also said a recount will be held in Busia county and a few local races amid concerns over the primaries.

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