To get live updates of the elections, please scroll to the bottom of this post for the live conversation on Twitter below.

The most important date in Kenya’s 2013 calendar is finally here. From all over the country, Kenyans will be walking, driving, and possibly even flying in as they vote for and elect their new government.

Being a proud Kenyan, I’m welcome this day with excitement and will be watching closely as news pours in of the poll results.

Of the total eight candidates, there are two main front-runners: Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, the sons of the nation’s first president and vice president, respectively.

Though Kenyatta and Odinga are the main players, there are eight presidential contenders, including veteran politician Martha Karua, who, if she won, would be the first female president in Kenya.

The five others are Musalia Mudavadi, Peter Kenneth, Mohammed Dida, Paul Muite and James Ole Kiyiapi. The winner must get more than 50% of the total votes to avoid a runoff in April. If there is no second round of voting, a new president will be sworn in later this month.

In addition to the presidential poll, voters will also pick senators, governors, members of parliament and county representatives — all under the new constitution.

Other than  electing the right man to take over outgoing President Mwai Kibaki’s seat, the other major focus for Kenyans regarding today was that voting be a peaceful and orderly process for all involved.

After the 2007/8 nightmare of an election where the country was caught in tribal clashes and infighting resulting in the displacement of million many are watching to see how we conduct ourselves.

A peaceful vote is crucial to restoring Kenya’s reputation as a bastion of stability in the region after the disastrous vote in December 2007.

The last election was a major setback to the nation and its economy, which analysts had predicted was poised for major growth at the time.

As the largest economy in East Africa, Kenya is a crucial trade route into the rest of the continent and provides an important buffer of stability in a region that includes the fledgling Somali government and the politically tense Sudan and South Sudan.

Kenya is also a major U.S. ally in the war against Islamist militants in Somalia, and the international community is hoping the country does not see a repeat of the violence.

What is being done to ensure peace this time around?

All in all, Kenyans have pledged peace, and candidates held a massive rally in the capital of Nairobi last month and vowed to address any election disputes in court.

Government officials have set up centers to monitor hate speech and any tribal incitement, which was a major cause of violence in the last election. Additionally, thousands of police officers have been dispatched nationwide to boost security, especially in areas most affected in the 2007 election.

To get live updates of the elections, please follow the conversation on twitter below:

Hashtags: #Kenya, #Kenya Elections, #NipeUkweli and #uchaguzi 

(The last two were set up to encourage Kenyans to report the eruption of violence, hate speech and lies about the upcoming elections via Twitter. What we’ve seen is many Kenyans speak out against  international media reporters ‘eager’ for news on eruptions of violence. I’m believing for the best man to win and prove the naysayers wrong!)

♥, peace and harmony!

[twitter_hashtag hash="Kenya, Kenya elections, Uchaguzi, NipeUkweli" number="20" title="The 2013 Kenya Elections Conversation on Twitter"]

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Sources:

Kenya elections: What you need to know, bFaith Karimi, CNN.com.

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