Explainer: Why Kenya’s presidential election matters


Nairobi, Kenya (AP) — Kenyans voted Tuesday To choose the successor of President Uhuru Kenyatta. The game is drawing to a close and it may be the first time to reach the finals.

One top candidate is Opposition Leader Raila Odinga, who is running for president for the fifth time and has the backing of former rival Kenyatta. The other is Kenyatta’s deputy, William Ruto, who fell out with the president earlier in his decade in office.

Both tend to focus more on domestic issues, raising the question of how both sides will follow up Kenyatta’s diplomatic efforts in neighboring Ethiopia or in a tense situation between Rwanda and Congo.

What is dangerous?

Kenya is the economic center of East Africa with a population of approximately 56 million. The country has a turbulent electoral history of late. Even so, it stood out for its relative stability in some heavily electorally challenged regions, with longtime leaders such as Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Uganda President Yoweri Museveni declared winners with nearly 99 percent of the vote , or have been widely accused of physically hitting competitors.

Kenya has no transparency on campaign contributions or spending. It is estimated that some candidates for parliament and other positions will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire legal and illegal powers and their benefits.

What is the lead candidate’s platform?

In stark contrast to Kenyatta and Odinga’s elite background, Ruto, 55, marketed himself as a “cheater” to the young and poor, a chicken seller from humble beginnings. He seeks greater agricultural productivity and financial inclusion. Agriculture is the main driver of Kenya’s economy, with approximately 70% of the rural workforce engaged in agriculture.

Odinga, 77, known for being jailed decades ago in his fight for multiparty democracy, has promised cash assistance to Kenya’s poorest and more accessible people.

What do voters care about?

Odinga and Ruto have long lingered among those running for the presidency, and there is a degree of apathy among Kenyans, especially among young people in a country with a median age of about 20. The electoral commission signed less than half of the new voters it had hoped for just 2.5 million.

Key issues in each election include widespread corruption and the economy. Kenyans have been hurt by rising food and fuel prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which comes in the wake of the economic pain of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than a third of the country’s youth are unemployed.

When will Kenya win?

Official results will be announced within a week of voting. To win outright, candidates need to get more than half of the votes and at least 25 percent of the vote in more than half of Kenya’s 47 counties. No direct winner means a runoff within 30 days.

The last presidential election in 2017 made history when the Supreme Court overturned the result and ordered a new vote, the first of its kind in Africa. If the court again asks for a new ballot, such an election will take place within 60 days of the ruling. Candidates or others have a week to file a petition with the court after the results are announced, and the court has two weeks to rule on them.



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