Today, Kenyans go to the ballot box yet again to elect a president, senators, county governors, civic ward and women representatives. Everyone is excited and cannot wait to elect the leader they feel will bring about change and care for the common man. Voters woke up as early as 4.00 am. this morning to queue even though the polling stations opened at 6.00 am.
Kenya became a republic in 1964 and later adopted a multi-party system in 1992. So far Kenya has had 3 presidents and Kenyans will be voting in their 4th president. Kenya’s system is one with characteristics compared with two-party system. Coalitions have dominated since the last general election in 2007. However it has been a multi-party system since 1992. One of the leading coalition consists of several parties. The president together with the other leaders will be in power for a term of 5 years. Kenya had over 160 registered parties as of November 2007 but the number came down following the implementation of several political parties act to 43.
The last elections were held in 2007 whereby the outgoing president his Excellency Mwai Kibaki won. This election was marred with claims of rigging and there was eruption of tribally fueled clashes that saw more than 1000 Kenyans killed and many businesses destroyed. This was a sad moment for Kenyans and investors as well. Kenyans have however used every way to fight tribalism and ethnicity.
Although six other presidential candidates aspire to be presidents (Mohamed Abduba Dida, Musalia Mudavadi, Peter Kenneth, Martha Karua, James Ole Keyapi and Paul Muite), the two favourites expected to win the race are the outgoing prime minister Honourable Raila Odinga and outgoing deputy prime minister Honourable Uhuru Kenyatta, of Cord party of Kenya and Jubilee party respectively, but there could be a surprise win from either of the others. This is the first election held under the new constitution passed during the 2010 referendum and the first general election run by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, (IEBC).
Raila Amolo Odinga
Was born in January 1945 and is popularly known by his supporters as Agwambo. He is the prime minister of Kenya in the coalition government. Odinga is a member of parliament for Langata since 1992 and has served as a minister for environment of energy from 2001 to 2002 and a minister for roads, public works and housing from 2003 to 2005. He was the main opposition candidate in the 2007 presidential election. Odinga is the son of the first vice president of Kenya Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and he is vying for presidency under the CORD coalition, an alliance of political parties.
Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta
Was born on 26th October 1961. He has been the deputy prime minister since 2008 in the coalition government. He is the member of parliament for Gatundu South and former chairman of Kenya African National Union, (KANU). He started his political life after being nominated to parliament in 2001 by the then president of Kenya Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi. Uhuru is the son of the first president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta (1964-1978), and is vying for presidency Under Jubilee party, also an alliance of several parties.
Elections and businesses
In 2007, many microfinance institutions – especially those with clients with businesses located in Kibera and Mathare slums in Nairobi – had many loans defaulted as the clients were unable to pay off their loans as their businesses and properties which formed part of the collateral were burnt due to tribal clashes. This was hence a dark time for most businesses and the country’s economy. Many MFIs have therefore decided to down scale their activities especially in areas that are considered volatile. All in all, Kenyans are very optimistic that this is going to be a peaceful election and transition period as they have leant from their mistakes. No more burning of properties and killing. Many campaigns for peace have been formed, for example I AM KENYAN!, a globally backed, Kenyan driven, awareness campaign that has used photography as a platform to promote peace during the election time with the message being for Kenyans to look at themselves and others as Kenyans and not as ethnic groups. The media have also come forth to spread the message of peace to Kenyans and even came up with a debate on the 11 and 25th of February where eight of the presidential hopefuls came out to present their policies to the Kenyans. This, Kenyans believe, is a start to getting better leaders in the future as in these debates they are accountable to Kenyans on the promises they give on their campaign trails, and also issues dividing the country are addressed in these forums.
The 2002 election represented a consolidation of democracy in Kenya proving that democratic change was and is possible and increased the trust of the population that the same can happen in 2013. Kenyans hope that the new group of leaders tackle issues of insecurity, unemployment health care, education and land and that the solutions are permanent.