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Kenya’s Electoral Wrestling Match: Dynasty vs Hustlers

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People at a rally in Kenya – some people are sitting on signposts – August 3, 2022

In a move by Trump endorsing a Clinton in a US election, Kenya’s outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta wants to hand over the political crown to his enemy-turned-friend Raila Odinga – only to see his deputy William Ruto try to snatch it at 9 To see. August election.

This has given rise to a political drama in which Mr Ruto casts himself as a “hustler” as part of a fight by Kenya’s two biggest dynasties – the Kenyatas and the Odingus – in an attempt to stay in power. Huh.

Trying to arouse the sympathy of the Kenyans, he prayed, cried and made incendiary claims that President Kenyatta was threatening him.

“I’ll face you until you kill my kids, but please respect each other,” said Mr. Ruto at one of his last campaign rallies, as the crowd cheered on him.

Denying his allegation, Mr Kenyatta said: “You have insulted me for almost three years. Has anyone touched you?”

Their exchanges showed how personal and bitter Kenya’s election campaign has become, as Mr Kenyatta came out in support of Mr Odinga as his successor.

Kenyan political analyst Prof Masibo Lumala told the BBC: “The president has turned Ruto’s attention to exchanging words with him and forgetting about his opponent.”

“The president has managed to bring out a side of his deputy that reflects his anger, which is not a good thing,” he said.

Vice President William Ruto fell out with President Kenyatta during his second term

Another analyst, Prof Makaria Munene, said that these sharp exchanges made Mr Odinga to “look like a cool” during the campaign, although he also took some blows at Mr Ruto, questioning his hustler’s claim. He was called the “man of the land” – a reference to the long-running controversy over how the vice president became a large landowner in Kenya. He has denied illegally acquiring land.

President Kenyatta’s move to back Mr Odinga has been seen as an attempt by him to secure his legacy by reuniting two families who jointly fought British colonial rule – only three years after independence The latter dropped out in 1966.

This meant leaving Mr Ruto, with whom he formed an alliance in the 2013 election, to fight charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the deadly violence that erupted in Kenya after the 2007 election.

“What used to unite them has disappeared,” said Prof Munene, “now Ruto wants to be elected and Uhuru wants his legacy so their interests have collided.”

Mr Kenyatta first contacted Mr Odinga after the controversial 2017 elections. Dismissing the results, Mr Odinga called for the boycott of several companies, including a company linked to the Kenyatta family, and declared himself “the people’s president” at a massive rally in the capital, Nairobi.

“Uhuru had to accommodate Raila because he was capable of causing immediate trouble and obstructing his work,” Prof Munene said, adding that the 77-year-old veteran politician accepted Mr Kenyatta’s olive branch because it took four After failing, the chances of becoming president increased. Attempt.

Professor Munene said, “Mr Odinga is looking more desperate because of age, and this appears to be his last chance.”

Raila Odinga has chosen former Justice Minister Martha Karua as her partner

The Kenyatta and Odinga families are extremely prosperous. What his fortunes are worth is unclear, but the public got a glimpse of Kenyatta’s wealth when the Pandora Papers linked him to offshore investments, including a stock and bond company, worth $30m (£22m). ) Was.

Mr. Ruto is also wealthy, but he portrays himself as someone who – once a roadside seller of chickens and peanuts – understands the plight of the poor, and will defend their interests if elected.

“While we are busy planning how the lowest Kenyan will be uplifted, some other operators are busy with hotels figuring out how to install a puppet president, who they will control, as they wish, in order to serve their selfish interests. Keep up the service,” Mr. Ruto once said at a rally – lines he repeated frequently and which were dismissed as untrue by his opponents.

With women making up almost half of the number of registered voters, Mr Odinga has chosen a female running-mate, former Justice Minister Martha Karua, in contrast to Mr Ruto.

Prof Lumala described her as a fresh breath in the male-dominated campaign, and said she had given Kenyans a “Kamala Harris” moment on the campaign trail.

“We can see an element of motherhood [in her], He kept his conscience and even when he was killed, he was measured in his language,” he said, although he also attacked Mr. Ruto in the final days of the campaign, saying that he was “trying to be a Deputy Jesus” while crying at prayer meetings. should stop doing it”.

Mr Ruto has focused heavily on winning over the youth – no surprise given that the official rate of unemployment among people aged 18 to 34 is around 40%, and the economy is more likely to join the workforce every time. It is not creating enough jobs to absorb the 800,000 youth. year.

That’s why Mr Ruto coined the phrase “Hustler Nation”, which refers to youth struggling to make ends meet, and promised a “bottom-up approach” to the economy, saying it would benefit the poor. Will happen.

Mr. Odinga’s manifesto is to rely on manufacturing and industrialization to create jobs.

He has also promised a monthly stipend of 6,000 Kenyan shillings ($50; £40) to two million needy families from a new social security fund if he is elected president.

Two lawyers are also running for the presidency:

  • George Wazakoiah, whose central pledge has been to create jobs through the production of marijuana for industrial use and

  • David Mware, who has campaigned on a platform to tackle corruption in the government.

Both front-runners spent vast amounts of cash over a four-month-long official campaign period, sweeping their convoys across the country – including luxury helicopters – to win voters.

“It’s a show of strength and in the midst of rising poverty – it looks like a mockery of people,” said Professor Munene.

But, he said, the crowd didn’t mind as they were often paid to attend rallies, which gave them a chance to earn some money.

No one knows whether they will double their salaries by secretly voting for another candidate on Tuesday.

But it is almost certain that Tuesday’s vote will not end the political drama involving Kenyatta, Mr Ruto and Mr Odinga.

Mr. Odinga is hoping that his choice of a female partner will cause many women to vote for him

Some pundits predict that no candidate will cross the magical 50% mark, leading to a run-off.

Others believe that a clear winner will emerge, but the result will be challenged by the defeated candidate.

The 2017 election was so marred by irregularities, including rigging, that Kenya’s supreme court annulled the results – and ordered a new order that Mr Kenyatta won after Mr Odinga was ousted.

This time the Election Commission says it is better prepared to ensure a free and fair election, which will see Mr Kenyatta hand the reins of power from his enemy to friend or friend to foe.

Click here to watch BBC Interactive

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