Kenya goes to the polls today and Kenyans hold their breath

A month ago on my fourth visit to Nairobi, I did a blog posting about the coming general election in Kenya. That election – and a host of other polls – will be held today and, given the experience of previous elections and the closeness of the rival coalitions, there are real fears about the risk of ethnic-based violence.

The general election is dominated by two coalitions of parties: one called Jubilee and the other titled the National Super Alliance or NASA. Jubilee is led by the current President Uhuru Kenyatta (who is Kikuyu) and the current Vice-President William Ruto (who is Kalenjin). NASA is headed by Presidential candidate Raila Odinga (who is Luo) and Vice-Presidential candidate Kalonzo Musyoka (who is Ukambani).

Both Kenyatta and Odinga are sons of former political leaders who dominated the early years of post-independent Kenya. Constitutionally this is the last presidential election that Kenyatta can contest, while in terms of his age Odinga could not really fight another presidential election. So the stakes are high.

There’s an explanatory article in the “Guardian” newspaper today.


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