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The Anatomy of Kenya’s 2022 Election

Despite violence and irregularities in Kenya's previous elections since the turn of the century, there is good reason to think that this year's vote will be peaceful and exemplary. Not only are many women running, but, most importantly, all the contenders are committed to an orderly transfer of power.

JOHANNESBURG – There was a time when Kenyan elections elicited only mild interest from the international community. For decades after Kenya gained its independence in 1963, the Kenya African National Union reliably dominated, owing to its use of questionable practices, some violence, and a persistently splintered opposition. But with the KANU’s defeat in 2002 and the horrific ethnic violence that killed up to 1,500 people in the wake of the 2007 election, Kenya’s elections started attracting international attention. People now focus much more closely on political developments in East Africa’s most important economy, and they will do so again when Kenyans vote on August 9.

This time, constitutional term limits prevent the incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta, from running. Having accepted that, Kenyatta has thrown his support behind his erstwhile rival, Raila Odinga, who previously served as prime minister in the government that was negotiated to end the crisis in 2008. Odinga is the head of the Orange Democratic Movement and the leader of Azimio La Umoja (loosely translated as “Resolution of Unity”), a coalition of parties running on a single ticket. His running mate, Martha Karua, is the first potential female vice president in Kenya.

They will square off against Kenya’s current vice president, William Ruto, who heads the United Democratic Alliance. Ruto and Kenyatta were both implicated in, and then cleared of, fomenting the violence in 2007-08. But they have since fallen out (hence Kenyatta’s support for Odinga). Two other candidates, David Mwaure Waihiga and George Wajackoyah, are almost certain to be also-rans.