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Kenya election: Voters head to polls in tight election



NAIROBI — Kenyans are heading to the polls Tuesday in a hotly contested presidential election pitting two of the international locations most outstanding politicians towards one another.

Former prime minister Raila Odinga, 77, who’s making his fifth bid for the nation’s highest workplace, says he needs to root out corruption, funnel cash to Kenya’s poorest residents and implement reforms to handle the skyrocketing costs of meals and gasoline on this East African nation. The left-leaning veteran opposition chief has the backing of term-limited President Uhuru Kenyatta, a former adversary with whom he shaped an alliance in 2018.

Deputy President William Ruto, 55, argues that he’ll higher characterize Kenya’s poor with a “bottom-up” financial mannequin focused towards small companies and addressing unemployment — he usually describes how he turned profitable solely after working as a rooster farmer in his youth. Ruto, who publicly fell out with Kenyatta throughout their second time period in authorities, has tried to border the election as a contest between “hustlers” like himself and “dynasties” like these of the Kenyattas and Odingas.

Kenya’s Raila Odinga and William Ruto are in a good race forward of the presidential election on Aug. 9. (Video: The Washington Put up)

Analysts predict that the election could possibly be one of many closest in current historical past. A runoff vote can be triggered if neither candidate reaches a 50 % majority — which might rely on the success of a 3rd candidate, George Wajackoyah, whose platform is constructed round legalizing medicinal marijuana. Whereas a few of Wajackoyah’s concepts are seen as outlandish — together with exporting hyena testicles — the reggae-loving professor has received passionate followers.

The winner of Tuesday’s election should tackle the nation’s large debt, hovering inflation, a drought within the north that has left hundreds of thousands hungry, and growing youth unemployment. Many citizens are disenchanted, not sure whether or not both Odinga or Ruto will deliver change.

“Politicians are all the identical,” stated Mark Otieno, 27, who was attending a Ruto rally Saturday in Nairobi. He stated he has been unemployed for 4 years regardless of having a school diploma. “These persons are first politicians, folks after their very own pursuits.”

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The election will probably be intently watched inside Kenya and overseas, together with in Washington. Kenya has been an essential counterterrorism ally of the USA and a supply of stability within the area. The nation has an extended historical past of election-related turmoil, with post-election violence in 2008 leaving greater than 1,000 useless and 600,000 displaced. The latest election, which pitted Odinga towards Kenyatta in 2017, was marred by avenue riots and a chronic interval of turbulence after a botched vote. Odinga challenged the ends in the nation’s Supreme Courtroom, and the judges ordered a rerun. Odinga additionally misplaced the second vote.

This yr, each Odinga and Ruto have publicly raised considerations with the Unbiased Electoral and Boundaries Fee, the physique charged with overseeing the election, citing points together with technical preparedness and the disappearance of voters from the registry. However each have additionally stated they are going to settle for the election outcomes.

“If I lose pretty, I would be the first to concede defeat,” Odinga stated in an interview at his mansion in Kisumu, in western Kenya. “But when it’s not truthful, then I’ll comply with the conventional channels to handle the problems.”

In current days, each tickets have crammed stadiums with energized supporters. In Kisumu, Odinga’s hometown, his followers held a large gavel to represent the justice they imagine Odinga and his operating mate, Martha Karua, will deliver. Karua can be the primary lady to function Kenya’s deputy president.

Standing within the sea of orange, the colour of Odinga’s get together, Daniel Liech, 68, stated the previous prime minister’s second has arrived, after years of battle that included serving as a political prisoner within the Eighties. That historical past is essential, stated Liech, including: “We wish to help him this final time.”

At a rally for Ruto in Nairobi on Saturday, followers danced to hits together with his marketing campaign anthem, “Sipangwingwi,” and waved indicators with the deputy president’s face on them. Some wore yellow shirts that stated “Freedom is coming.” Kefa Simiyu Wanyonyi, 33, who’s unemployed, stated he hoped that beneath Ruto — whom he sees as the most effective advocate for the youth and the poor — he would get a job.

“We have now hustled so lengthy,” he stated, “and now we have now somebody who says that he can see us, that he can see our struggles, that he’ll assist us.”




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