Explainer: why Kenya’s presidential election is important

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyans vote Tuesday to choose a successor to President Uhuru Kenyatta. The race is close and may go into runoff for the first time.

A top candidate is Raila Odinga, an opposition leader in his fifth round of the presidency, who is being backed by former rival Kenyatta. The other is Kenyatta’s deputy, William Ruto, who fell out with the first president of his decade in power.

Both focus more on domestic issues, raising questions about how Kenyatta’s diplomatic efforts for peace in neighboring Ethiopia will follow or in tensions between Rwanda and Congo.

what’s at stake?

Kenya is the economic center of East Africa and home to approximately 56 million people. The country has had a history of turbulent elections recently. Nevertheless, it stands out for its relative stability in a region where some elections have been deeply challenged and longtime leaders such as Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni were declared winners with nearly 99% of the vote. has been, or has been widely alleged. physically inflicting on the claimants.

There is no transparency in campaign donations or spending in Kenya. Some candidates for parliament and other positions are estimated to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to gain access to power and its benefits, both legal and illegal.

What are the platforms of the main candidates?

Ruto, 55, promotes himself as a “hustler” for the young and poor, emerging from humble beginnings as a chicken salesman in contrast to the aristocratic backgrounds of Kenyatta and Odinga. He wants greater agricultural productivity and financial inclusion. Agriculture is the main driver of Kenya’s economy and about 70% of the rural workforce is in farming.

Odinga, 77, famous for going to prison fighting for multi-party democracy decades ago, has pledged cash for Kenya’s poorest and more accessible health care for all.

What do voters care about?

Odinga and Ruto have long made rounds among presidential contenders, and are a measure of apathy among Kenyans, especially in the young country where the average age is around 20. The Election Commission signed off on less than half of the new voters. Expectedly, just 2.5 million.

Major issues in every 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, and it 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 declared within a week of polling. To win outright, a candidate needs to have more than half of the votes cast and at least 25% of the votes in one of Kenya’s 47 counties. An outright winner does not mean a runoff election within 30 days.

The last presidential election in 2017 made history when a top court overturned the results and ordered a new vote, a first in Africa. If the courts again ask for a fresh vote, such an election will take place within 60 days of the decision. After the declaration of the result candidates or others have a week to file a petition in the court, which has two weeks to rule.

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