Kenya – Presidential election: The outgoing president supports an opposition candidate

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After running for two terms and no longer being able to stand as a candidate under Kenya’s constitution, Uhuru Kenyatta has decided to support his former rival and Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga. A historic decision in the country’s political spectrum.

“We have chosen Raila Odinga to be the 5th President of Kenya”. This is the declaration of Uhuru Kenyatta, last Saturday in front of thousands of his supporters gathered in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. The President of the Republic in office since 2013 has set his sights on his eternal rival for the presidential election scheduled for next August. The rapprochement between these two behemoths of Kenyan political life began last month. Indeed, the party led by Kenyatta, the Jubilee has decided to join the Azimio la Umoja coalition, which means “Quest for Unity”, in view of the next elections (presidential and legislative). In his address on Saturday, Uhuru Kenyatta added by declaring: “We have no doubts, we have a team captain whose name is Raila Odinga”.

This coalition comes to bury the hatchet between the two most powerful political entities in the country. Indeed, the two protagonists fought for several years a merciless struggle to lead the country. In 2017, after the re-election of Uhuru Kenyatta, post-election violence broke out in the country. After registering more than a dozen deaths, the two men shook hands to end the crisis, which greatly surprised observers. It was not the first time that the two sides had caused unrest in the country. Already in 2007-2008, post-election violence caused the death of more than 1,100 Kenyans. Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga were later indicted at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. But in the end the charges were dropped against them.

77-year-old Raila Odinga is no new to presidential elections. As a reminder, he will participate in his 5th presidential election next August. Everything seems to believe that this time will be good for him. He also declared to this effect: “I accept this appointment with absolute gratitude and dedication to our people”. He considers this alliance with his lifelong enemy as “the most unexpected political event in the history of our country”. A former political prisoner and Prime Minister, he now enjoys the support of 26 political parties within the Azimio la Umoja coalition. If elected, he will be the first of the Luo ethnic group to run for president in Kenya. A post occupied since independence in 1963 by the Kikuyu and Kalenjin ethnic groups.

Nevertheless, this coalition does not only make people happy. The big loser in this historic rapprochement is William Ruto, the country’s current vice-president. Breaking with Kenyatta, Ruto was banned from the Jubilee party at the end of February. Appointed to succeed Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto no longer has the support of the party. At 54, he has not yet officially declared himself a candidate. But everything suggests that he will. He has been holding rallies in recent months.

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