What you need to know:
The Kenyan political scene is difficult to understand and more so, to explain.
This year’s election is one of the most hotly contested elections that the country has ever had.
Here, Nation Explainer breaks down all the information you need on this year’s election.
We start with the key people shaping the current political landscape.
- He is the President of the Republic of Kenya.
- He is serving his last term in office, having served for the maximum two terms since 2013.
- He is not new to politics. In 2002, he vied for president under Independence party Kanu but lost to Mr Mwai Kibaki. He became the opposition leader.
- In the 2007 General Election, he supported President Kibaki and was subsequently appointed Deputy Prime Minister in the Grand Coalition Government.
- He was also MP for Gatundu South constituency from 2002 to 2013.
- He is the Deputy President.
- He was MP for Eldoret North from 2008 to 2013.
- He also served as minister for Agriculture, and later, Higher Education, in the Grand Coalition Government.
- In 2013, his United Republican Party (URP) merged with Mr Kenyatta’s The National Alliance (TNA) to form the Jubilee Party.
- They won the election in 2013 and 2017, with Dr Ruto as the running mate of Mr Kenyatta.
- The two would later have a falling out, with President Kenyatta choosing his 2013 and 2017 opponent, Mr Raila Odinga, over his deputy, to succeed him.
- Under the Kenya Kwanza Alliance umbrella, Dr Ruto is currently a presidential aspirant for the 2022 General Election.
- He is a veteran politician, having served in various capacities in his political career.
- He leads the Azimio la Umoja Coalition, with the backing of President Kenyatta.
- From 1992 to 2007, he was the MP for Lang’ata.
- He has served in different Cabinet ministries since 2001, and was the Prime Minister between 2008 and 2013.
- This will be the fifth time Mr Odinga runs for president.
The falling-out between President Kenyatta and his deputy
In 2013, when President Kenyatta and his deputy got into power, they supposedly had a gentleman’s agreement – made public by President Kenyatta – for a 20-year deal, with each leading for the maximum 10 years.
But nine years later, the two have since fallen out, with the Uhuru-Raila ‘Handshake’ – a political truce between the erstwhile rivals – seen as the main reason for the break up.
The ‘Handshake’ happened on March 9, 2018, when President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga agreed to work to together in a bid to the divisive politics and animosity that pervaded political discourse at the time.
This signaled a start to the Opposition working with the government.
Dr Ruto did not seem to appreciate this union, and started to drift away.
Two political groupings emerged. One became known as Tangatanga and the other was referred to as Kieleweke.
Tangatanga consisted of the DP’s allies, while Kieleweke was supporting Mr Kenyatta, and welcomed the Handshake.
It soon became clear that the President and his deputy would never be on good terms again as long as Mr Odinga was in the equation.
Dr Ruto who has been running political campaigns since the Handshake, formed a new party, the United Democratic Alliance (UDA).
It became the new political outfit for the DP and his allies as well as those who were defecting from the Jubilee Party.
Political alliances and coalitions
Despite the country having many parties, most are racing to join coalitions endorsing either Dr Ruto or Mr Odinga for the top seat at the August 9 General Election.
There are currently two main political coalitions in the country; Azimio la Umoja and the Kenya Kwanza Alliance.
Azimio, which recently announced Mr Odinga as its presidential flagbearer consists of the Jubilee Party, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), the Wiper party, Kanu, Party of National Unity (PNU), Democratic Alliance Party- Kenya (DAP-K), Narc-Kenya, United Democratic Party (UDP), United Progressive Alliance (UPA), Pamoja African Alliance (PAA), Kenya Union Party (KUP), and United Party of Independent Alliance (UPIA), among others.
The Kenya Kwanza alliance consists of UDA, Amani National Congress (ANC), Ford-Kenya, The Service Party, Chama Cha Kazi, Tujibebe, Chama Cha Mashinani, Safina and Farmers Party.
While ideology is the main way to woo voters, Kenyan politics is still largely about ethnic mobilisation.
To put this into perspective, both Mr Odinga and Mr Ruto are working to ensure they clinch votes in the Mt Kenya region by choosing a running mate from there.
Key dates of the 2022 General Election
March 26: Deadline for submission of party membership lists.
April 9: Deadline for submission of names of persons contesting in party primaries by political parties.
April 22, 2022: Deadline for conducting party primaries.
May 29-August 6: Official election campaign period. Campaigns will run from 7am to 6pm.
August 9: Election Day. Voting begins at 6am and ends at 6pm.
August 16: Last day for electoral commission to release election results.