Raila Odinga, Kenya’s diehard presidential hopeful

Raila Odinga, Kenya's diehard presidential hopeful
Raila Odinga, Kenya's diehard presidential hopeful

Africa-Press – Kenya. Raila Odinga, running for president for the fifth time, is a historic figure in Kenyan politics, having spent decades as an opposition figure before moving closer to power in recent years.

The August 9 presidential election is likely to be the last chance to enter State House, the presidential palace, for the 77-year-old political veteran whose ambition and determination are at the heart of Kenya’s recent history.

A member of the Luo tribe, he entered parliament in 1992 and ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 1997, 2007, 2013 and 2017, claiming to have been cheated of victory in the last three elections.

The 2007 polls in particular – cast a long shadow over Kenyan politics, unleashing a wave of ethnic violence that pitted tribal groups against each other and cost more than 1,100 lives.

Few therefore expected Odinga and Kenyatta to shake hands and draw a line under decades of vitriol in March 2018.

After the post-election violence in 2017 that left dozens dead, the two rivals surprisingly decided on a truce, symbolized in March 2018 by a handshake that remained famous.

Odinga is the son of the nation’s first vice president, while Kenyatta is the son of the first president.

A former political prisoner, Odinga says the last three elections were stolen from him. Deadly violence followed the disputed 2007 and 2017 votes.

Odinga has pledged to stamp out widespread graft and give a monthly stipend to the unemployed, universal healthcare and free education to all. He named his eldest son Fidel in a nod to his left-wing sympathies.

His political heartland is in western Kenya, whose residents have in the past complained of neglect by the government due to their support for the opposition

The Kenyatta and Odinga families have dominated Kenyan politics since the country won independence from Britain in 1963.

Although not as wealthy as Kenyatta or Ruto, Odinga sits at the head of a business empire with stakes in energy companies.

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