Kenya’s eternal number two can finally go to the top – NRK Urix – Foreign news and documentaries

Romjula 2007. It was like a house of cards collapsing: As soon as it was turbulent, Kenya’s democracy collapsed.

Kenya was to hold its second democratic election. Optimism was great, and Kenya’s democracy was to strengthen when Raila Odinga challenged President Mwai Kibaki.

But at the same time as Norwegians attended family dinners and watched Christmas films on TV, it developed into a nightmare in Kenya.

Over a thousand killed in two months

A few days after election day, anarchy had replaced democracy in Kenya.

People were killed in the open, small houses were set on fire and the country was deep in a national crisis where ethnic groups were suddenly in bloody conflict.

Raila Odinga’s supporters believed President Kibaki cheated his way to victory.

Some constituencies took quite a long time to report the election results, and Kibaki barely passed Odinga completely on the run-up side.

It created a commotion. Two of the largest ethnic groups in Kenya were suddenly in deadly conflict with each other. For Kibaki was a Kikuyu, and was supported by his own people. The same happened to Odinga, who was Luo.

Over a thousand people were killed in the two months it took to find a solution that included Kibaki and Odinga sharing power in the country.

Elections and elections – no longer two sides of the same coin

9 August 2022. Kenya’s democracy will be put to the test again. Raila Odinga (77) is still one of those hoping to win. Ethnicity still plays a political role in Kenya. But important changes give hope that this year’s election can still go smoothly.

Kenya got a new constitution after the electoral turmoil fifteen years ago.

  • Today, there is a clearer separation between the judiciary and political power. Thus, there is also greater confidence that the legal system can take a stand on possible electoral fraud.
  • Should the result be the same as in 2007, there is now a requirement for a new round if the winner does not get more than 50 percent of the votes.
  • There is also a requirement that at least 25 percent support is needed in at least half of the electoral districts to win. This is to ensure broad geographical support.
  • In addition, more power has been transferred to local and regional level.

These, and a number of other measures, have made the ethnic background of the presidential candidates less decisive for people.

The fact that none of this year’s favorites come from the largest ethnic group in Kenya is also something new, and it makes the ethnic dimension a little different than before.

There is a lot of unrest around Kenyan elections, even though the vote is smaller than before. In 2017, people in Mathare set fire to a roof to try to prevent voters from reaching a polling station in the poor district of Nairobi.

Photo: LUIS TATO / AFP

Odinga – the super veteran who has been in exile in Norway

The man in charge of the opinion polls is called Raila Odinga, and is a veteran in Kenyan politics. It is the sixth time Odinga is a presidential candidate, and the fifth time he has participated in an election where he can actually win.

Odinga is the son of Kenya’s first vice president, and grew up with far more wealth than most Kenyans.

He received his education in East Germany. After he returned home, he got involved in politics, and that would cause him a lot of trouble. For Odinga, fight against Daniel Arap Moi’s one-party rule in Kenya.

Odinga was imprisoned, and when he was released after six years, in 1991, he feared for his life. He fled to Uganda, and eventually boarded a plane to Norway, where he was in exile for several months in 1991.

He quickly returned to Kenya, and since then has been among the country’s most important politicians.

Does Odinga get help from Kenya’s women?

Since 2002, Kenya has been a country where several parties have a real chance of winning elections. Odinga has been trying ever since then to become president. Now it can happen. The 77-year-old is in better shape than ever.

Some of Odinga’s most important issues are getting the economy in order. He says he wants to stop corruption, which is and has been a problem in Kenya for many years. The country has also accumulated a lot of debt after large investments in recent years.

In addition to getting the economy on track, Odinga has ambitions to ensure a better public health service for all Kenyans.

Valplakat with Raila Odinga and Martha Karua

Kenya may have its first female vice president. Martha Karua goes to the polls together with Raila Odinga.

Photo: YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP

When he gathered his supporters in a large stadium this weekend, he promised that, if he wins the election, all Kenyan families living below the poverty line will receive financial assistance. This means payments of NOK 490 every month.

Perhaps Odinga has made a chess move by choosing Martha Karua as his vice-presidential candidate.

The former justice minister, known for being a tough politician, could become Kenya’s first female vice president. Maybe he can get a lot of female votes.

Ruto – the controversial rich man

Odinga has several opposing candidates, but it is William Ruto who is closest in the polls.

Ruto is a wealthy businessman who is also a controversial politician. He is constantly blamed for corruption, and many believe that it is impossible that his company could have made him as rich as he is.

He has been convicted once, and his vice-presidential candidate recently also received a corruption conviction against him. But Ruto himself claims that he is against all corruption.

William Ruto waves to his supporters.

William Ruto hopes to beat Raila Odinga in the race for the top political office in Kenya.

Photo: MARCO LONGARI / AFP

Ruto also had to appear in court after the 2007 election. He was found guilty of inciting murder, looting and violence and had to appear before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The case was put aside because important witnesses withdrew their statements.

Ruto’s political career was therefore not dead, and now he is standing as a presidential candidate for the first time.

Will Ruto get back into the ring?

At the election five years ago, he was the vice-presidential candidate for Uhuru Kenyatta. But he still does not have the president’s trust and support in this year’s election. Ruto was seen on the sidelines after Kenyatta and Odinga started a partnership in 2018.

Ruto could continue as deputy president, because the constitution ensured that he could keep the job, but he can still profile himself as an opposition politician who has no responsibility for politics in recent years.

Ruto takes advantage of that. He believes that the plans that existed five years ago have not been carried out. His plan now is to create industrial jobs to reduce unemployment in Kenya. He also wants to strengthen the country’s agricultural sector.

Ruto talks a lot about “bottom-up”, which means that he wants a policy that strengthens those who work at the bottom of the Kenyan economy. The idea is that strengthening entrepreneurs and small businesses will create growth and a solid economy.

The silhouette of a politician in front of a sea of ​​people with supporters.

The election campaign has been going on for some time. Tuesday this week is election day in Kenya.

Photo: PATRICK MEINHARDT / AFP

Expect few changes

Neither Ruto nor Odinga represent major changes in Kenyan politics. Poverty and corruption are ongoing challenges. And the elite in the country are still rich, while the average of the people is poor.

It is therefore likely that the ongoing inflation will be a topic for whoever wins the presidential election in Kenya. Several food items have increased sharply in price in a short time. Fuel prices in the world also make transport more expensive.

With an ever-increasing foreign debt, especially to China, the economy is becoming an important and difficult topic.

Speech from the Central Bank of Kenya shows that the country, during Kenyatta’s reign, has gone from around NOK 243 billion in debt in 2013, to around NOK 700 billion last year.

So even if Odinga right now is close to achieving his dream, he could have a nightmare start to his first term as Kenya’s president, if he wins.

  • Høyr Tomm Kristiansen tell us about another Kenyan who is standing for election this week. Koigi wa Wamvere now wants to become a senator, but he has a past where he lived for many years as a political refugee and family man in Kolbotn.

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