Kenyans are voting Tuesday in an unusual presidential election-Zamkuwire - Zamkuwire.com

Kenyans are voting Tuesday in an unusual presidential election-Zamkuwire

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Maasai waiting in line to cast their votes look through an open window at electoral officials inside a polling station at Niserian Primary School, in Kajiado County, Kenya, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Polls opened Tuesday in Kenya's unusual presidential election, where a longtime opposition leader who is backed by the outgoing president faces the deputy president who styles himself as the outsider. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Kenyans are voting Tuesday in an unusual presidential election, where a longtime opposition leader who is backed by the outgoing president faces the brash deputy president who styles himself as the outsider and a “hustler.”

The election is considered close, and East Africa’s economic hub could see a presidential runoff for the first time even as turnout is expected to be lower than usual. Economic issues such as widespread corruption could be of greater importance than the ethnic tensions that have marked past votes with sometimes deadly results.

Kenya is a standout with its relatively democratic system in a region where some leaders are notorious for clinging to power for decades. Its stability is crucial for foreign investors, the most humble of street vendors and troubled neighbors like Ethiopia and Somalia.

People line up to cast their vote in Kenya's general election in Eldoret, Kenya, Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022. Kenyans are voting to choose between opposition leader Raila Odinga Deputy President William Ruto to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta after a decade in power. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga))

The top candidates are Raila Odinga, a democracy campaigner who has vied for the presidency for a quarter-century, and 55-year-old Deputy President William Ruto, who has stressed his journey from a humble childhood to appeal to millions of struggling Kenyans long accustomed to political dynasties.

“In moments like this is when the mighty and the powerful come to the realization that it is the simple and the ordinary that eventually make the choice,” Ruto told journalists after becoming one of the first voters. “I look forward to our victorious day.” He urged Kenyans to be peaceful and respect others’ choices.

“I have confidence that the people of Kenya are going to speak loudly in favor of democratic change,” Odinga told journalists on his way to vote. A cheering crowd jogged alongside his convoy as he arrived to vote in Nairobi.

Outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president, cut across the usual ethnic lines and angered Ruto by backing longtime rival Odinga after their bitter 2017 election contest. But both Odinga and Ruto have chosen running mates from the country’s largest ethnic group, the Kikuyu.

Deputy President and presidential candidate William Ruto, center, greets supporters after casting his vote in Kenya's general election in Sugoi, 50 kms (35 miles) north west of Eldoret, Kenya, Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022. Kenyans are voting to choose between opposition leader Raila Odinga and Ruto to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta after a decade in power. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)Presidential candidate Raila Odinga casts his vote inside a polling station at the Kibera Primary School in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Kenyans are voting to choose between opposition leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta after a decade in power. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)Deputy President and presidential candidate William Ruto, center, speaks to reporters after casting his vote in Kenya's general election in Sugoi, 50 kms (35 miles) north west of Eldoret, Kenya, Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022. Kenyans are voting to choose between opposition leader Raila Odinga and Ruto to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta after a decade in power. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)A woman wearing traditional Maasai jewellery lines up to vote at the Oltepesi Primary School, Kajiado County in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022. Kenyans are voting to choose between opposition leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta after a decade in power. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)Deputy President and presidential candidate William Ruto casts his vote in Kenya's general election in Sugoi, 50 kms (35 miles) north west of Eldoret, Kenya, Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022. Kenyans are voting to choose between opposition leader Raila Odinga and Ruto to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta after a decade in power. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)People line up to vote at the Kibera Primary School in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Polls opened Tuesday in Kenya's unusual presidential election, where a longtime opposition leader who is backed by the outgoing president faces the deputy president who styles himself as the outsider. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)People line up to vote at the Kibera Primary School in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Polls opened Tuesday in Kenya's unusual presidential election, where a longtime opposition leader who is backed by the outgoing president faces the deputy president who styles himself as the outsider. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

The 77-year-old Odinga has made history by choosing running mate Martha Karua, a former justice minister and the first woman to be a leading contender for the deputy presidency. “Make your voice heard,” she said after voting early in a knitted cap, a sign of the unusually cold weather in parts of the country.

Rising food and fuel prices, debt at 67% of GDP, youth unemployment at 40% and corruption mean economic issues are at the center of an election in which unregulated campaign spending highlighted the country’s inequality. But personalities still matter.

“We need mature people to lead, not someone who abuses people. Someone who respects elders,” said 55-year-old teacher Rosemary Mulima, who arrived at a polling station on Nairobi’s outskirts to find an estimated 500 people in line before dawn. She had “very high” hopes for Odinga on his fifth try,

Others said they were seeing a lower turnout than the 80% five years ago and blamed voter apathy. The electoral commission signed up less than half of the new voters it had hoped for, just 2.5 million.

“The problems from 2017, the economy, the day-to-day life, are still here,” said 38-year-old shopkeeper Adrian Kibera, who wasn’t sure he would bother to vote. “We don’t have good choices,” he said, calling Odinga too old and Ruto too inexperienced.

Maasai women walk towards the Oltepesi Primary School polling station to vote in Kajiado County, Kenya, Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022. Kenyans are voting to choose between opposition leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta after a decade in power. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)Residents line up to vote at the Kibera primary school in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022. Kenyans are voting to choose between opposition leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta after a decade in power. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)A man displays his inked finger after casting his ballots inside a polling station at the Kibera Primary School in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Polls opened Tuesday in Kenya's unusual presidential election, where a longtime opposition leader who is backed by the outgoing president faces the deputy president who styles himself as the outsider. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)Residents line up to vote at the Oltepesi Primary School in Kajiado County, Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022. Kenyans are voting to choose between opposition leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta after a decade in power. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Difficulties were reported at times with the electronic voting system, and presidential candidate George Wajackoyah told journalists that some voting kits weren’t working. Though polling in low single figures, Wajackoyah and his pledges to legalize marijuana have prompted questions over whether he could draw enough votes to force a runoff.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission told journalists that about 200 voting kits had failed out of more than 46,000, calling it “not widespread” and a “normal thing” for technology to break down at times. It also said more than 6.5 million people had voted by midday, or about 30% of the 22 million registered.

Maasai wait in line to cast their votes in the general election at a polling station in Esonorua Primary School, in Kajiado County, Kenya Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Polls opened Tuesday in Kenya's unusual presidential election, where a longtime opposition leader who is backed by the outgoing president faces the deputy president who styles himself as the outsider. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta waves to the crowd after casting his vote at Mutomo Primary School, Gatundu, Central Kenya Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022, with leading candidates Raila.Odinga and William Ruto vying to become the new president of East Africa's economic hub. (AP Photo)A Kenyan officer stands guard at a polling station in Sugoi, 50 kms (35 miles) north west of Eldoret, Kenya, Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022. Kenyans are voting to choose between opposition leader Raila Odinga Deputy President William Ruto to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta after a decade in power. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)A woman casts her vote in Kenya's general election in Sugoi, 50 kms (35 miles) north west of Eldoret, Kenya, Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022. Kenyans are voting to choose between opposition leader Raila Odinga Deputy President William Ruto to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta after a decade in power. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)

Kenyans hope for a peaceful vote. Elections can be exceptionally troubled, as in 2007 when the country exploded after Odinga claimed the vote had been stolen from him and more than 1,000 people were killed. Ruto was indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity for his role in the violence, but his case was terminated amid allegations of witness tampering.

In 2017, the high court overturned the election results, a first in Africa, after Odinga challenged them over irregularities. He boycotted the new vote and proclaimed himself the “people’s president,” bringing allegations of treason. A public handshake between him and Kenyatta calmed the crisis.

A Maasai man prepares to cast his vote in the general election at a polling station in Esonorua Primary School, in Kajiado County, Kenya Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Polls opened Tuesday in Kenya's unusual presidential election, where a longtime opposition leader who is backed by the outgoing president faces the deputy president who styles himself as the outsider. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)Maasai wait in line to cast their votes in the general election at a polling station in Esonorua Primary School, in Kajiado County, Kenya Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Polls opened Tuesday in Kenya's unusual presidential election, where a longtime opposition leader who is backed by the outgoing president faces the deputy president who styles himself as the outsider. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

This is likely Odinga’s last try, and Kenyans and election observers are waiting to see how his often passionate supporters react to the results and any allegations of rigging.

Ruto and Odinga have said they will accept the official results — if the vote is free and fair. “It is every Kenyan’s hope,” the president told journalists after voting.

Official results must be announced within a week, but impatience is expected if they don’t come before this weekend. The underfunded electoral commission is under pressure to ensure an untroubled vote.

To win outright, a candidate needs more than half of all votes and at least 25% of the votes in more than half of Kenya’s 47 counties. No outright winner means a runoff election within 30 days.

People line up to vote at the Oltepesi Primary School, Kajiado County in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022. Kenyans are voting to choose between opposition leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta after a decade in power. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)A woman casts her ballot at the Kibera primary school in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022. Kenyans are voting to choose between opposition leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta after a decade in power. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)An elder man prepares to vote at the Oltepesi Primary School, Kajiado County in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022. Kenyans are voting to choose between opposition leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta after a decade in power. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)An election official marks the hand of a voter at the Kibera primary school in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022. Kenyans are voting to choose between opposition leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta after a decade in power. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)People line up to cast their vote in Kenya's general election in Sugoi, 50 kms (35 miles) north west of Eldoret, Kenya, Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022. Kenyans are voting to choose between opposition leader Raila Odinga Deputy President William Rutoto succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta after a decade in power. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)Presidential candidate Raila Odinga waves to his supporters after casting his vote at the Kibera Primary School in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Kenyans are voting to choose between opposition leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta after a decade in power. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)People line up to cast their vote in Kenya's general election in Eldoret, Kenya, Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022. Kenyans are voting to choose between opposition leader Raila Odinga Deputy President William Ruto to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta after a decade in power. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga))Maasai wait in line to cast their votes at a polling station at Niserian Primary School, in Kajiado County, Kenya Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Polls opened Tuesday in Kenya's unusual presidential election, where a longtime opposition leader who is backed by the outgoing president faces the deputy president who styles himself as the outsider. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)Maasai waiting in line to cast their votes look through an open window at electoral officials inside a polling station at Niserian Primary School, in Kajiado County, Kenya Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Polls opened Tuesday in Kenya's unusual presidential election, where a longtime opposition leader who is backed by the outgoing president faces the deputy president who styles himself as the outsider. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

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