0748 GMT October 06, 2022
Kenyans voted Tuesday in a presidential election, where a longtime opposition leader who is backed by the outgoing president faces the brash deputy president who styles himself as the outsider and a “hustler.”
The election is considered close but calm, and East Africa’s economic hub could see a presidential runoff for the first time. Economic issues such as widespread corruption could be of greater importance than the ethnic tensions that have marked past votes with sometimes deadly results, AP reported.
Kenya is a standout with its relatively democratic system in a region where some leaders are notorious for clinging to power for decades. Its stability is crucial for foreign investors, the most humble of street vendors and troubled neighbors like Ethiopia and Somalia.
The top candidates are Raila Odinga, a democracy campaigner who has vied for the presidency for a quarter-century, and 55-year-old Deputy President William Ruto, who has stressed his journey from a humble childhood to appeal to millions of struggling Kenyans long accustomed to political dynasties.
“In moments like this is when the mighty and the powerful come to the realization that it is the simple and the ordinary that eventually make the choice,” Ruto told journalists. “I look forward to our victorious day.” He urged Kenyans to be peaceful and respect others’ choices.
“I have confidence that the people of Kenya are going to speak loudly in favor of democratic change,” Odinga told journalists. A cheering crowd jogged alongside his convoy as he arrived to vote in Nairobi.
Outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president, cut across the usual ethnic lines and angered Ruto by backing longtime rival Odinga after their bitter 2017 election contest. But both Odinga and Ruto have chosen running mates from the country’s largest ethnic group, the Kikuyu.