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Kenya elections 2022: Raila Odinga and William Ruto in tight race for president

By Dickens Olewe

BBC News, Nairobi

Vote counting in KenyaImage source, Getty Images

Image caption,

More than 90% of polling stations across the country have reported results

Provisional results suggest a tight presidential race in Kenya between Deputy President William Ruto and former prime minister Raila Odinga.

With more than 90% of results posted from thousands of individual districts, local tallies of the raw data suggest little separates the pair.

However it could be several days before the official result is known.

This vote follows an intense campaign dominated by debates about living costs, unemployment and corruption.

Turnout is estimated at around 60%, well short of the 80% in the last election five years ago.

A largely peaceful election day was marred by logistical delays and a failure of the identification kit in some parts of the country.

Baba v Hustler

The two frontrunners in the presidential race are seasoned politicians.

Mr Odinga, 77, – a long-serving opposition leader, nicknamed Baba (“father”) by his supporters, is running for president for a fifth time. Mr Ruto, 55, who has tried to emphasise his connection with ordinary Kenyans by calling himself a “hustler”, is taking his first stab at the presidency.

Two other candidates – David Mwaure and George Wajackoya – are also in the race.

Outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta is backing Mr Odinga, a foe turned ally, to succeed him, after a falling out with Mr Ruto.

To win the presidential race in the first round, a candidate needs:

  • more than half of all the votes cast across the country
  • at least 25% of the votes cast in a minimum of 24 counties.

After counting the votes, local officials take a photo of the final tally sheet and send the image to both the constituency and national tallying centres.

The media, political parties and civil society groups have been compiling their own tallies using these final results declared at the more than 40,000 polling stations.

But only the electoral commission can declare the winner of the presidential election after verifying the physical and digital forms sent to the national tallying centre.

It has seven days to announce the result.

Who is in the race to run Kenya?

Learn more about Kenya’s presidential candidates

Choose a candidate to view their bio

Raila Amollo Odinga

Azimio la Umoja Coalition

The basics

  • Age: 77
  • Nicknamed “Baba”
  • Son of former vice-president
  • Trained as an engineer in what was then East Germany
  • Prime minister from 2008 to 2013 in the unity government created after post-election violence
  • Formed alliance with ex-political enemy President Uhuru Kenyatta
  • Four-time unsuccessful presidential candidate

Known for

  • Championed multiparty democracy in the one-party era.
  • Detained twice (1982-88 and 1989-91) as a political prisoner.
  • Seen as a formidable campaigner able to draw large crowds.

Key policies

  • Achieve double-digit economic growth through investment in small business and manufacturing sector.
  • Provide affordable quality healthcare for all.
  • Disburse $50 (£42) a month to two million needy households.

William Samoei Ruto

Kenya Kwanza Alliance

The basics

  • Age: 55
  • Worked as a street trader as a teenager.
  • Has a PhD in plant ecology from the University of Nairobi.
  • Served as deputy president since 2013 but fell out with boss President Uhuru Kenyatta.
  • One of Kenya’s biggest maize farmers.
  • Charged by the International Criminal Court over post-election violence – charges later dropped.

Known for

  • Portrays himself as champion of the downtrodden.
  • Coined phrase “hustler nation”
  • Owns huge parcels of land but the source of his wealth is a subject of speculation.
  • Praised as an effective agriculture minister from 2008-2010.
  • Seen as a powerful orator and robust media interviewee

Key policies

  • Give all Kenyans subsidised health insurance cover and a fee waiver for poor households.
  • Allocate $420m annually to support small and medium-sized enterprises.
  • Appoint a gender-balanced cabinet.

George Wajackoyah

Roots Party

The basics

  • Age: 63
  • Holds a masters in international development law from the UK’s University of Warwick.
  • Says he has 17 university degrees
  • Worked in police intelligence before he fled the country in 1990 to escape from torture
  • Gained notoriety with eye-catching policies

Known for

  • Lived on the streets of the capital as a child and was rescued by Hare Krishna worshippers
  • Partner in a law firm he established in 2018
  • Campaigns wearing a tracksuit, T-shirt and headscarf rather than a smart suit

Key policies

  • Legalise the farming and production of marijuana for industrial and medical use
  • Switch to a four-day working week from Monday to Thursday
  • Invest in snake farming to extract the venom which can be exported

David Mwaure Waihiga

Agano Party

The basics

  • Age: 65
  • Practised law for more than three decades
  • Also an ordained reverend
  • Previously ran for MP, senator and county governor – losing each time

Known for

  • Founded Agano Party in 2006
  • Says he brings a “breath of fresh air” to the top of politics
  • First expressed an interest in running for president in 2013

Key policies

  • Set up an asset recovery agency under the presidency to recover stolen funds
  • Slash income tax by half and get rid of it altogether for medics and police
  • Give incentives to manufacturers and entrepreneurs to create jobs

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