Four run for president in Kenya’s elections

Opposition leader Raila Odinga. File photo

  • Kenya has only four candidates in its presidential race – the smallest number since the early 1990s.
  • Among the candidates are the current deputy president William Ruto and veteran politician Raila Odinga.
  • All candidates running for Ruto have chosen women as their running mates.

Four candidates are in the running to become Kenya’s next president, including incumbent Vice President William Ruto and veteran politician Raila Odinga, the electoral commission said.

It is the smallest number of candidates released to hold the top job in the East African power since multi-party democracy in the early 1990s.

Only four candidates “meet the required constitutional and legal requirements” of a shortlist of 17, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said in a statement late Monday.

In addition to Ruto and Odinga, the other candidates vying for the presidency in the August 9 vote include lawyers David Mwaure and George Wajackoyah – a former spy who once went into exile in Britain.

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More than 50 aspirants had expressed interest in standing to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta, who must step down after serving a maximum of two terms of five years.

This year’s competition is set on a two-horse race between former presidential ally Ruto and 77-year-old former opposition leader Odinga, who now has Kenyatta’s support.

Wajackoyah, an eccentric lawyer, is running on a pledge to expand executive power, reduce the workweek to four days and legalize marijuana.

Mwaure, who had shown interest in running in 2013 but later withdrew his candidacy, has vowed to fight corruption, a problem in Kenya.

Women run mates

All candidates except Ruto have chosen women as their running mates, who, should they win, open the door to Kenya’s first female deputy president.

A mainstay of Kenyan politics, Odinga remains hugely popular despite losing four shots at the presidency.

But his fierce image of anti-establishment took a beating after his 2018 reconciliation with Kenyatta.

Ruto, 55, was initially anointed by Kenyatta as his successor, but found himself marginalized after the 2018 pact between the president and former enemy Odinga.

Willem Rutte

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta (R) and Vice President William Ruto

AFP Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

A former agriculture minister, Ruto has lambasted Kenyatta over his economic policies, including the country’s enormous debt burden, and promised to repay them if elected.

With its diversity of population and ethnic blocs, elections in Kenya are often marred by violence.

Both Kenyatta and Ruto were indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity for their alleged role in orchestrating post-poll violence in 2007 that cost more than 1,100 lives.

The case collapsed in 2016 after the court declared a crime with evidence of troublesome incidents of witness interference.

After fighting after the 2017 election left dozens dead, Kenyatta and Odinga announced a rapprochement, saying they hope to end repeated cycles of poll-related violence.

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Four run for president in Kenya’s elections

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