By Faridah N Kulumba
Africa-Press-Kenya The Kenyan Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declared that all political formations must adhere to the Constitutional, statutory, and regulatory prescriptions by nominating their running mates and handing over the names to the Commission by Thursday 28 April 2022, as the country is preparing for the general elections due to take place in August this year.
Kenyans are set to cast their votes on 9th August this year. The hot race is between the number two in power Deputy President William Ruto and the leader of the opposition Raila Odinga for the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) who was endorsed by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. For many Kenyans, this will be the mother of all elections.
The commission to set the deadline followed some Presidential candidates taking long to submit the names of their running mates. According to the commission they were guided by the Law and its Election Operation Plan which was published in a special issue of the Kenya Gazette on January 20, 2022.
The Commission is cognizant of the fact that in the year 2017, the Commission received the names of the Presidential candidates and their Deputies as well as those of County Governors and their Deputies before the date of registration of candidates. The Candidate Registration Management System bears records vindicating this position. Indeed, this presents a solid precedent and it would be unsafe to depart therefrom.
By Monday 2 May 2022, the registrar submitted the list of names to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for the final clearance, in line with election timelines. The list showed that 47 independents who have satisfied the electoral body that they are not a member of any registered political party in Kenya vie for the presidency. If they are cleared by the IEBC to contest, they will be the largest number of presidential contenders on the ballot since Kenya’s multi-party elections in 1992. The independents will face leading contenders DP Ruto and Azimio la Umoja One Kenyan Coalition Party leader Raila and Safina flagbearer Jimi Wanjifi for the top office.
The ruling party Jubilee, the opposition party ODM, and other political groups a few weeks after joining forces ahead of elections in August. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta reiterated his support for former rival Odinga before a cheering crowd in Nairobi. This was proof to show that the two leaders buried the hatched and they were ready to take Kenya to the next level.
In March 2022, President Kenyatta while endorsing his former rival Raila 77, to be the Kenyan fifth president said “We have chosen Raila Odinga,” he informed Kenyans under the banner Azimo la Umoja meaning Quest for unity. The official endorsement brought together two of Kenya’s top political dynasties, who have opposed each other at the ballot box since 2017.
The hustler and the project of the system
In October 2021, Kenyan Deputy President Ruto said the 2022 presidential race was framed between him as the Hustler of the Nation, and the ‘project of the system’ referring to the opposition leader of ODM Raila as the government project. Ruto expressed displeasure at President Kenyatta’s decision to back Raila for the presidency instead of him, vowing to defeat Raila just like he was defeated by Jubilee in the last two general elections.
Things fall apart
President Uhuru’s relationship with his deputy and his successor Ruto took a turn when Jubilee entered a pact with opposition leader Raila. On 19 March 2018, President Uhuru and Raila shook hands in a symbolic gesture that ended months of tensions following the disputed election in 2017 that gave Uhuru a second term. Popularized as the “handshake,” the agreement has caused major rifts within the ruling party since it ushered in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
Allies to DP Ruto accused Raila of “hijacking” the Jubilee Party for political interests, while proponents of the handshake and the BBI fault Ruto’s allies for curtailing Kenyatta’s initiative to unite Kenyans.
In 2018, President Kenyatta and Raila stunned Kenyans when they shook hands and declared a truce after post-election violence in 2017 left dozens of people dead. Raila’s 2022 presidential bid comes after he lost four shots at the presidency in 1997, 2007, 2013, and 2017. The announcement came after Kenyatta’s successor Ruto who also vyes for the presidency was sacked from the Jubilee party.
According to Radio Africa Limited polls for April 2022, DP Ruto was leading with 45.5 percent while Ruto ODM leader Raila was in the second position with 41.3 percent. The President of Kenya is elected using a modified version of the two-round system: to win the first round, a candidate must receive over 50 percent of the vote and at least 25 percent of the vote in a minimum of 24 of the 47 counties.