NAIROBI – Four candidates are vying to become Kenya’s next president, including current vice president William Ruto and former politician Raila Odinga, the electoral body said.
It is the lowest number of candidates endorsed for the highest post in East Africa’s power center since multi-party democracy in the early 1990s.
Only four candidates on a shortlist of 17 “met the necessary constitutional and legal requirements,” the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said in a statement late Monday.
Alongside Ruto and Odinga, the other candidates in the August 9 presidential election are lawyers David Mwaure and George Wajackoyah, a former spy exiled in Britain.
More than 50 candidates had expressed interest in succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is due to step down after a maximum of two five-year terms.
This year’s contest is shaping up to be a one-on-one between former presidential ally Ruto and former opposition leader Odinga, 77, who now has Kenyatta’s backing.
Wajackoyah, an eccentric lawyer, promises to expand executive power, reduce the work week to four days and legalize marijuana.
Mwaure, who expressed an interest in running in 2013 but later withdrew his candidacy, has pledged to crack down on corruption, a hot topic in Kenya.
WOMEN RUNNING MATES
All the candidates except Ruto have chosen women as running mates which, should they win, would open the door to Kenya’s first female vice president.
Odinga is a pillar of Kenyan politics and remains hugely popular despite losing four presidential moves.
But his fiery anti-establishment image took a hit after his reconciliation with Kenyatta in 2018.
Ruto, 55, was initially nominated by Kenyatta as his successor but found himself sidelined after the 2018 pact between the president and former foe Odinga.
Ruto, a former agriculture minister, chastised Kenyatta for his economic policies, including the country’s huge debt burden, and pledged to reverse them if elected.
With its diverse population and ethnic electoral blocs, elections in Kenya have often been marred by violence.
Kenyatta and Ruto had both been charged with crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court for their alleged role in orchestrating post-election violence in 2007 that claimed more than 1,100 lives.
The case collapsed in 2016 after the court declared a mistrial citing troubling instances of witness interference.
After post-election fighting claimed dozens of lives in 2017, Kenyatta and Odinga announced a rapprochement and said they hoped to end repeated cycles of election-related violence.
- Editor/ additional report by AFP