People are voting in Kenya’s general election amid fears that the result could trigger communal violence.
On the eve of the vote, President Uhuru Kenyatta appealed for calm in a televised speech.
He urged the 19 million registered voters to turn out in great numbers, but “in peace”. Queues formed early and some minor stampedes were reported.
The contest pits Mr Kenyatta against his long-time rival, Raila Odinga, and is seen as too close to call.
Mr Kenyatta, the 55-year-old son of Kenya’s founding president, is seeking a second and final term in office.
The final week of campaigning has been marred by the murder of a top election official and claims of vote-rigging.
Long, snaking queues
Chief EU observer Marietje Schaake said polling stations were busy and people were eager to cast their vote.
“Today is a very important day for Kenyans. We hope these elections will be peaceful, credible and transparent,” she said at Nairobi’s Moi Avenue primary school polling station.
Observers say the leading candidates both avoided inflammatory speeches as polling day drew closer.
In 2007, more than 1,100 Kenyans died and 600,000 were displaced after a disputed election – an outcome neither side wants to see repeated.
This time long, snaking queues were seen at some polling stations, and video footage at one showed people injured on the ground after an apparent stampede.
Some polling stations opened late, the electoral commission said on Twitter.
“We are addressing these concerns,” it added. “Will ensure that no single voter is disenfranchised.”
On Monday, Mr Kenyatta urged voters to go home after casting their ballots.
“Go back to your neighbour, regardless of where he or she comes from, their tribe, their colour or their religion,” he said.
“Shake their hand, share a meal and tell them ‘let us wait for the results’, for Kenya will be here long after this general election.”
Opposition leader Mr Odinga, of the National Super Alliance, also addressed the public on Monday. He raised fears about vote-rigging and claimed the deployment of at least 150,000 members of the security forces was a ploy to intimidate voters.
However, he congratulated Mr Kenyatta on his campaign, describing him as a “worthy opponent”.
n Westlands Primary School polling station in the capital, Nairobi, where I voted, people started queuing from as early as 02:00 local time (23:00 GMT).
When the gates did not open at 06:00 as scheduled, some people became agitated and some approached journalists to vent their frustrations.
The gates opened at 06:23 and the already impatient crowd broke from their orderly queue to rush into the school compound.
Once in, they stood in different queues that had been set up based on voters’ surnames.
I found myself in the wrong queue so my biometric details were not available in the unique machine used in that stream.
After getting into the right queue, my details were verified and my photo and name were displayed on the machine in a few seconds.
After I voted, my finger was marked with indelible ink. The whole process took about four minutes.
Despite delays and some confusion, the enthusiasm and energy is unmistakable.
Former US President Barack Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, also called for calm.
“The choices you make in the coming days can either set Kenya back or bring it together,” he said in a statement.
“As a friend of the Kenyan people, I urge you to work for a future defined not by fear and division, but by unity and hope.”
Eight presidential candidates are on the ballot on Tuesday, with polls open until 17:00 local time (14:00 GMT).