Raila Odinga launched his fifth bid for Kenya’s presidency on Friday, with the support of his former foe, President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Due to a constitutional term limit of two, five-year terms, Kenyatta will not be on the ballot next August.
Odinga credited Kenyatta with starting the dialogue that reunited them four years ago, following a bitter dispute over the 2017 election.
“It takes a seasoned statesman to shake the hand of his rival,” he told tens of thousands of supporters gathered at Nairobi’s main sports stadium.
Odinga’s supporters danced and sang as they wore orange and blue shirts, the colors of his Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party. There were some who waved party and national flags.
In each of Odinga’s last three elections (2007, 2013), his supporters protested the results or challenged the results in court, alleging that his victories were stolen. Both 2007 and 2017 were marred by deadly clashes.
Nevertheless, he made peace with Kenyatta in early 2018, effectively sidelining Ruto, whose presidential ambitions are well-known.
The campaign launch was attended by several ministers and senior government officials. President Kenyatta’s vice chair also addressed the crowd, emphasizing the president’s support.
In his speech, Odinga outlined plans to increase socioeconomic welfare and fight poverty.
Having left Jubilee, Ruto runs on the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), a new party in the Rift Valley that represents a different ethnic group.
Odinga and Ruto have already been fighting it out on the campaign trail, especially in central Kenya, which is home to Kenyatta’s ethnic Kikuyu voters.
Ruto fought alongside Odinga following the 2007 elections, when police crackdowns on protesters and ethnic clashes killed more than 1,000, prompting a new constitution and the return of power. Ruto joined forces with Kenyatta in 2013.
Many of the central region’s most influential business leaders and ministers are behind Odinga. Ruto has the support of most of the region’s elected representatives. The central region’s most influential business leaders and ministers are backing Odinga.
Odinga has been touting his long experience in national leadership, including a stint as prime minister. He has also promised to stamp out widespread graft, give a monthly stipend of 6,000 shillings ($53) to the unemployed, and unite Kenya’s ethnic groups.
Ruto has also pledged to focus on the poor if elected.
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