Kenyan presidential candidates wrap up campaigns with plea for peaceful polls

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Kenyan Coat of arms
Coat of arms

Kenya’s leading aspirants for the presidency wrapped up their campaigns on Saturday with a passionate appeal to their supporters to turn up in large numbers and cast their ballots in a peaceful manner during Tuesday’s national polls.

The two front-runners in the presidential race, William Ruto, the sitting Deputy President, and Raila Odinga, a veteran opposition leader, made their final pitch to voters at public rallies held in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

In his address to thousands of jubilant supporters, the 77-year-old Odinga who is running for presidency under the Azimio La Umoja (Resolution for Unity) coalition of 26 political parties reiterated his commitment to fighting graft, fostering national unity, healing, and reconciliation.

“We are committed to building a country of hope and opportunity, dismantling graft cartels in the public service, and providing a monthly stipend of 6000 shillings (50.13 U. S dollars) to vulnerable families,” said Odinga.

The campaign season in Kenya, which commenced on May 29 ended on Saturday at 6 p.m. local time, some 48 hours ahead of Tuesday polls, as stipulated in the country’s election laws.

Statistics from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) indicate that 22.1 million voters will cast their ballot on Tuesday to elect a president, senators, governors, women representatives, lawmakers, and members of the county assembly.

A total of 46,229 polling stations will be opened to voters from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time with the electoral body assuring the public and foreign observer missions it was committed to overseeing free, fair, and peaceful national polls.

Kenya will be holding the seventh general elections since the country adopted multiparty politics in 1991, with four presidential candidates making a strong case for economic liberation during the three months campaign period.

Odinga, a former Prime Minister and current African Union Special Envoy for Infrastructure Development who is making his fifth stab at the presidency stated that revamping key economic sectors like agriculture and manufacturing will be the key priority of his administration if he clinches the presidency.

In addition, Odinga said that his government will also scrap tuition fees from basic to tertiary institutions of learning, revitalize the informal sector of the economy through fiscal incentives, and provide support to farmers and livestock keepers.

On his part, the 56-year-old Ruto who has been the Deputy President since 2013 said his administration will reduce the cost of living within the first one hundred days.

Ruto said that he will also provide subsidized fertilizer to farmers, promote agro-processing and value addition, inject seed capital into youth-led start-ups and create an enabling environment to spur the growth of indigenous manufacturing.

Making his first stab at the presidency, Ruto has been in elective politics since 1997, serving in different capacities as a lawmaker, cabinet minister, and deputy president.

Predicted as too close to call by local pollsters, the presidential race pitting Ruto and Odinga will test the resilience of Kenya’s democratic institutions, national cohesion, peace, and stability.

The winner must garner 50 percent plus one vote and at least 25 percent of votes cast in 24 out of 47 counties in the country, failure to which the second round of voting will be conducted where a simple majority will determine the winner.

A petition from either of the four presidential candidates at the Supreme Court based on a variety of grievances ranging from voter bribery and intimidation could prolong the swearing-in of Kenya’s next leader. Enditem

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