Kenya has a dark and sad history bitter electoral disputes and violencegeneral elections are scheduled to be held on Tuesday, August 9, 2022. In these elections, citizens will elect the president, members of the National Assembly and Senate, county governors, and members of the 47 county assemblies.

Electoral trajectories of contemporary Kenyan politics

The preparation for this election is covered fall out former allies and strongmen in contemporary Kenyan politics: current President Uhuru Kenyatta and his current Deputy President William Ruta. The root cause of their quarrel undoubtedly lies in the contradictions of the accusations leveled against each other.

More intensely, despite the fact that Ruto was Kenyatta’s running mate in the last presidential election held in 2017, Kenyatta is determined to prevent the deputy president from succeeding him. The main variable of this rotation follows from Kenyatta’s endorsement of the perennial presidential candidate who is also the former prime minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga. The latter is the presidential candidate of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) under the auspices of the Azimio La Umoja coalition.

Interestingly, during the 2017 presidential election, Kenyatta joined forces and formed a functional alliance with Ruto. After the election management body, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), declared the duo the winners of the election, Odinga filed an election challenge based on multiple allegations of vote rigging. Mainly, providing concrete evidence that the IEBC server was hacked and its database tampered with.

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Ultimately, the Supreme Court of Kenya, led by the current Chief Justice and retired President, Justice David Maraga, annulled the results of the presidential election and ordered new elections. To ensure a credible repeat election, Odinga also asked for an overhaul of the electoral systems and his request was not granted. Protesting the refusal to heed his call to reform electoral systems and the IEBC, but not official In accordance with Kenya’s electoral law, Odinga resigned from the party the second round of electionsthus opening the way to Art the duo won the election again.

Odinga’s long-term candidacy in the presidential elections

Raila Odinga, the son of Oginga Odinga, the first vice president of Kenya (from December 12, 1964 to April 14, 1966) and then the leader of the opposition, ran unsuccessfully for the presidency four times in 1997, 2007, 2013 and 2017. With support from Kenyatta, Odinga’s fifth presidential contest could mean a better chance to lead Kenya at the age of 77. For comparison, Hakainde Hichilema, the current president of Zambia, participated in presidential elections five times: in 2006, 2008, 2011, 2015 and 2016. won the 2021 presidential electionwinning over 59% of the vote.

With significant support from President Kenyatta, the upcoming presidential election could either deliver Odinga to the state House of Representatives or indefinitely condemn him to an unwanted perpetual candidacy. Perhaps the fifth unsuccessful presidential campaign can force Odinga to gracefully retire from active political activity.

Kenyatta’s choice for Odinga

Reluctance to run for Kenya’s presidency for a fifth time after failing four times stunned Odinga. This reluctance was presented by President Kenyatta during a meeting with Luo and Luhya leaders in Nyanga. In fact, Kenyatta pushed Odinga, arguing that he was the only alternative who could emerge victorious against Ruto. The latter is the presidential candidate of the United Democratic Alliance, which is the largest party in the Kenya Kwanza coalition.

Kenyatta notes that he has overlooked other presidential candidates such as Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonza Musyoka, Peter Kenneth, Fred Matiang’i, Justin Muturi and Dr Muhisa Kitui. While Odinga’s running mate Martha Wangari Karuawas chosen by the Kenya Kwanza Coalition Rigati Gachagua joined Ruto as deputy presidential candidate.

The smoothed relationship between President Kenyatta and Odinga owes its popularity threshold “handshake” between the two new allies, which took place on March 9, 2018. The “handshake” is a marking of an unexpected political commitment between the two. In the couple’s eyes, it meant an end to tensions, mistrust and hostilities and provided a binding road map to develop a common framework to advance Kenya’s economic and political interests.

A “handshake” in terms of succession?

According to Kenyatta, Kenya’s prospects for eradicating endemic corruption stem from Odinga’s ascension to the presidency. This bold statement could be interpreted as a hint that Ruto’s leadership could plunge the country into irreversible bad governance. Moreover, for Kenyatta, since their momentary “manda handshake”, Odinga has shown goodwill while Ruto has resorted to divisive politicking that nullifies the country’s progress.

It is important to note that having previously contested the presidency four times with divisive politics, electoral fraud and subsequent politically motivated violence, perhaps Odinga’s support could change the political landscape of Kenya’s elections. However, for President Kenyatta, his succession plan is not limited to the search for national cohesion, but also development.

All factors are considered; 25 years after his first presidential contest in 1997, one can still wonder if Raila Odinga can win his fifth bid to become Kenya’s president. DM

Paul Mudau is a senior lecturer in the Department of Public, Constitutional and International Law at the University of South Africa.

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