NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyans voted Tuesday to choose a successor to President Uhuru Kenyatta. The race is close and could go to a second lap for the first time.
One of the main candidates is Raila Odinga, an opposition leader in his fifth presidential bid who is supported by his former rival Kenyatta. The other is William Ruto, the Kenyatta MP who fell out with the president early in his decade in power.
Both tend to focus much more on internal issues, which raises the question of how he will follow up on Kenyatta’s diplomatic efforts to keep calm in neighboring Ethiopia or in the tensions between Rwanda and the Congo.
WHAT IS AT STAKE?
Kenya is the economic hub of East Africa and home to some 56 million people. The country has a recent history of turbulent elections. Even then, it stands out for its relative stability in a region where some elections are seriously challenged and longtime leaders such as Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni have been declared winners with nearly 99% of the votes. votes, or have been widely accused of physically suppressing contestants.
Kenya has no transparency on campaign donations or spending. Some candidates for Parliament and other positions are estimated to be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to gain access to power and its benefits, both legal and illegal.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN CANDIDATE PLATFORMS?
Ruto, 55, promotes himself to the young and poor as a “con man” who rose from humble beginnings as a chicken vendor in contrast to the elite backgrounds of Kenyatta and Odinga. He seeks greater agricultural productivity and financial inclusion. Agriculture is the main driver of the Kenyan economy and about 70% of the rural workforce is engaged in agriculture.
Odinga, 77, famous for being imprisoned while fighting for multi-party democracy decades ago, pledged cash donations to Kenya’s poorest and most accessible health services for all.
WHAT DOES THE VOTERS CARE?
Odinga and Ruto have long circulated among presidential candidates, and there is a certain apathy among Kenyans, especially among younger people in a country where the average age is around 20. The electoral commission registered less than half of the new voters it had. expected, only 2.5 million.
Key issues in each election include widespread corruption and the economy. Kenyans have been hit by rising food and fuel prices in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and that comes after the financial pain of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than a third of the country’s youth are unemployed.
WHEN WILL KENYA HAVE A WINNER?
The official results will be announced a week after the vote. To win outright, a candidate needs more than half of all the votes and at least 25% of the votes in more than half of Kenya’s 47 counties. No outright winner means a runoff election within 30 days.
The previous presidential election in 2017 made history when a higher court overturned the results and ordered a new vote, the first in Africa. If the courts call a new vote again, that election would take place within 60 days of the ruling. Candidates or others have one week after the results are declared to file a petition with the court, which has two weeks to rule on it.
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