Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has cleared the two main presidential candidates and their running mates to contest for the top seat during the Aug. 9 general elections.
William Ruto, the sitting deputy president who is running on a Kenya Kwanza (Kenya first) coalition of political parties, and his running mate, Rigathi Gachagua, were the first to be cleared to run for the coveted seat on Saturday, having met constitutional threshold.
Having received the nod to run for presidency, Ruto promised supporters that he would transform the country’s economy, address youth unemployment and reduce the cost of basic commodities if he won the tight race.
The 56-year-old Ruto added that his administration would create a conducive environment for youth-led startups to thrive, besides ensuring farmers had access to cheaper inputs and market for their produce.
“Our agenda is to refashion the economy to make sure it spreads benefits evenly. We will also invest in labor-intensive programs that would alleviate youth unemployment,” Ruto told supporters at a public rally in Nairobi, the capital.
Ruto also pledged a cordial working relationship with the country’s electoral body, to ensure the Aug. 9 polls were conducted in a fair, transparent and verifiable manner.
On his part, Raila Odinga, known as the doyen of opposition politics, was cleared on Sunday to run for presidency under the Azimo La Umoja (Resolution for Unity) coalition of more than 20 political parties.
The 77-year-old former prime minister and his running mate, Martha Karua, a seasoned female lawmaker and gender rights advocate, promised to conduct peaceful campaigns ahead of Aug. 9 polls.
“We promise that we will conduct ourselves in a manner that conforms with the requirement of electoral laws,” Odinga told senior electoral agency officials while urging his supporters to maintain peace during the campaigns.
Odinga, who served as prime minister in 2008-2013, is making his fifth stab at the presidency and currently holds the portfolio of African Union (AU) High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa.
After getting the clearance to contest for presidency, Odinga told supporters in a rally in Nairobi that his presidential bid was informed by a desire to improve governance, spur economic growth and promote cohesion.
Odinga, a businessman, will launch his manifesto on Monday, which is expected to be heavy on economic reforms, revitalizing anti-graft war and doling out social protection to the vulnerable including youth, women and the disabled.