Kenya’s presidential campaigns are expected to pick up steam after a three-week hiatus during which the front runners attempted to stem the clashes of chaotic party primaries and called off public rallies to mourn the loss of former President Mwai Kibaki.
Deputy President William Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga resumed the hunt for votes in Nyanza and Mt. Kenya districts respectively, speaking at a series of town hall meetings and public rallies.
The election of the two first port of call regions was significant because a number of counties in those regions are considered potential swing voting zones in the August 9 elections.
Kisii, one of the two counties in Nyanza where Dr. Ruto campaigned on Wednesday and Thursday and voted for Mr Odinga in his last presidential bid in 2017. Having encouraged Ruto he can hold his own in the county.
Perhaps the most intriguing battle in this year’s election is unfolding in the Mt. Kenya region – a bloc of about 10 voting-rich counties overwhelmingly represented by the communities Gikuyu, Embu and Meru.
Although the Vice President and his UDA party currently enjoy a large following in the region, accounting for nearly a third of the national vote, a spirited campaign by Mr Odinga suggests so suggests he believes he can still garner enough votes to start the race in his favour.
The former Prime Minister’s well-oiled campaign has the backing of President Uhuru Kenyatta and a club of wealthy financiers concerned about Dr. Ruto’s populist ‘Hustler Nation’ narrative is attracting the underprivileged.
As part of his effort to gain a foothold on Mt. Kenya, Mr. Odinga is seriously considering picking a competitor from the region and his sacking double deputy Kalonzo Musyoka.
Mr Musyoka, who hails from the eastern region, has publicly laid claim to the position of vice president, citing the sacrifice of his own presidential ambitions for Azimio la Umoja’s coalition candidate, perceived political seniority, party strength and personal history with Mr Odinga.
Meanwhile, the battle for Hill polling is expected to increase in the coming weeks as President Kenyatta campaign tours in his troubled political base on Mount Kenya for Mr. Odinga.
The President has campaigned for the last two months, his last ditions avoided making a big entrance in March during the unveiling of Mr Odinga as an Azimio candidate.
Notably, the relationship between the President and Vice President continued to deteriorate during this time, leading to the duo becoming mutually exclusive hit on Kibaki’s funeral ceremony and taking part in a public row on Labor Day.
The rare moment of direct confrontation between the political friends-turned-foes suggests that the gauntlets for the
And ethnic permutations that seem to favor a running mate for the Azimio candidate in Mt. Flirt with Ruto earned him a spoiler tag in the Odinga camp.