On Tuesday, voters across Kenya began lining up before dawn to cast their ballots for the next five years of government. Former prime minister Raila Odinga and current vice president William Ruto are the front-runners for the presidency. 

Mr. Odinga, a long-serving opposition figure known to his supporters as Baba (the word for “father”), is seeking the presidency for the fifth time. Mr. Ruto is making his maiden run for the presidency. He has used the term “hustler” to emphasize his closeness to regular Kenyans. 

After a disagreement with his own deputy, outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta is now supporting his erstwhile adversary, Mr. Odinga. Although some locations have reported delays and logistical issues, overall, the process seems to be going smoothly.

The vote comes after a heated campaign that featured discussions on the cost of living, unemployment, and corruption.

Mr. Ruto promised to accept the election results when he cast his ballot in the Rift Valley town of Eldoret. According to him, all the contenders have promised to accept the results for the first time in Kenya’s multi-party democracy’s history, he told the BBC.

Why this matters

  • A dispute over election results in 2007 sparked weeks of unrest that resulted in an estimated 1,200 fatalities and 600,000 home evacuations.
  • The Supreme Court determined that the electoral commission had broken the law when it came to the electronic transfer of the vote tallies from the polling places, leading to the annulment of the results of the most recent presidential election in 2017.
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