It’s election day in Kenya, where the vote for president is likely to be closely contested between incumbent President William Ruto and seasoned opposition candidate Raila Odinga.
With Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua serving as his deputy, Dr. Ruto is making his maiden run for the president and aims to defeat all obstacles.
After a disagreement with President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has backed Mr. Odinga and his running mate Martha Karua of the Azimio la Umoja coalition, he has weathered many political storms, including the majority of his allies being ousted by the ruling party Jubilee from various parliamentary positions.
After failing in his previous tries in 1997, 2007, 2013, and 2017, Mr. Odinga is making his fifth and perhaps final bid to win the nation’s top job.
Last week’s publication of the final pre-election polls showed Mr. Odinga ahead of Dr. Ruto, but the DP has disputed the results as being fabricated.
Other candidates in the contest for the State House include Mr. David Mwaure Waihiga, who is being represented by Ruth Mucheru on the Agano Party ticket, and George Wajackoyah and Justina Wambui of the Roots party, both of whom have based their campaigns on the legalization of marijuana.
However, neither of them makes much of an impression in any surveys, leaving Dr. Ruto and Mr. Odinga to compete head-to-head.
In the election with the most candidates since independence, 22,120,458 people are registered to cast ballots in 290 constituencies and 46,229 polling places.
Since the reintroduction of the multiparty system in 1992, there have been four presidential candidates, but there are a record 2,132 candidates vying for 290 National Assembly seats, and another 12,994 are vying for 1,450 County Assembly (MCA) slots.
A total of 340 candidates have been approved to run for the 47 Senate seats, while 266 others are vying for governorships in the 47 counties and another 359 are vying for the 47 National Assembly seats for women.
In the meantime, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) postponed voting in four MCA seats because candidates had passed away.
The four wards are South Gem in Siaya County’s Gem constituency, Kyome/Thaana in Kitui County’s Mwingi West constituency, Oloimasani in Narok County’s Emua Dikirr constituency, and Utawala in Nairobi County’s Embakasi East constituency.
The two front-runners for the president engaged in a brutally combative campaign leading up to today’s elections.
President Kenyatta is wrapping up his second and last term, making the transitional election crucial as it ushers in a new era. Unlike his predecessor Mwai Kibaki, however, he is strongly supporting his favorite candidate, Mr. Odinga, much to the dismay of the Ruto camp.