Top news: Kenyans are heading to the polls today in a hotly anticipated presidential election. Fears that this year's election may bring a return to the brutal communal violence that marred the 2007 election and left over 1,000 dead and displaced 600,000 has made this year's election a bellwether for the country's democratic future.
Early reports Monday indicated that turn-out was high but also included reports of overnight violence. In the coastal city of Mombasa, a machete-wielding gang attacked a group of police officers, killing nine. Across the country, long lines were reported as Kenyans waited up to six hours in line to cast their ballots. Ahead of the election, the country's outgoing president, Mwai Kibaki appealed for peace. "I also make a passionate plea for all of us to vote peacefully," he said. "Indeed, peace is a cornerstone of our development."
It is unclear whether Monday's election will lead to a decisive outcome, and the race may be determined by a run-off election between the top two candidates. The two front-runners in the race are Raila Odinga, the prime minister, and Uhuru Kenyatta, a deputy prime minister. The ICC has charged Kenyatta for his role in the 2007 violence, alleging that he bankrolled groups behind the violence.
Middle East: Having secured promises from Mohammed Morsy's government that it will move ahead with IMF-mandated reforms, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that the United States will provide Egypt a $250 million aid package. Continuing his swing through the region, Kerry met Monday with Saudi diplomats who staked out a more aggressive posture on providing arms to Syrian rebels, exposing a rift in policy between the two regional allies.
- Iranian state television announced that the country's nuclear authority is building 3,000 advanced centrifuges for uranium enrichment.
- The exiled leader of the Syrian opposition, Moaz al-Khatib, visited his country for the first time since fleeing last year, meeting with rebel groups to shore up support for his coalition.
- In an interview with the Sunday Times of London, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad lashed out at Western leaders, accusing them of hypocrisy as they publicly seek to end the conflict while at the same time "militarize the problem."
- China is defending what is expected to be an increase in defense spending in a budget to be unveiled at the National People's Congress set to begin Tuesday.
- A powerful car bomb targeting Shiites leaving a Karachi mosque killed at least 45 and wounded another 149, the latest in a string of sectarian violence to hit the country.
- Cambodian translators at a tribunal charged with prosecuting members of the Khmer Rouge went on strike after not being paid for three months, delaying the proceedings.
- Fighters believed to be affiliated with the militant Islamist group Boko Haram attacked a military base in Nigeria killing 20 as the group's leader denied that he is willing to enter into peace talks with the government.
- Congolese government troops, citing the need to preserve a fragile peace process, returned control of two towns to the M23 rebel group, which had withdrawn in order to put down a factional dispute that has split the rebel movement.
- The Chadian general overseeing the operation alleged to have killed the militant leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who is believed to have orchestrated the attack on a gas refinery in southern Algeria, said he can not confirm that the militant leader has been killed.
- Cardinals convened in the Vatican for a series of meetings ahead of the conclave that will select the next pope.
- Swiss voters overwhelmingly enacted measures -- known as the "fat cat initiative'' -- that will impose strict limits on executive compensation.
- Germany threatened to veto the inclusion of Bulgaria and Romania in the Schengen-zone, which allows for passport-free travel for citizens of member states.
- Venezuelan Vice-President Nicolas Maduro said the country's ailing president, Hugo Chavez, has been receiving chemotherapy since battling back from a respiratory infection.
- The Brazilian economy posted anemic economic growth for 2012, growing by just 0.9 percent -- compared to 2.7 percent in 2011 -- according to government figures released Friday.
- Mexico's ruling party amended its party platform to allow for private investment in the state oil company, which may lay the groundwork for energy sector reform.
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