The Stream

What lies ahead for Kenya after a tightly-fought election?

On Friday, August 12 at 19:30 GMT:
Authorities in Kenya are tallying millions of votes cast in a general election that will decide who will be the country’s next president.

The two leading candidates to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta are deputy president William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga – who has Kenyatta’s public backing following a well-publicised rift with his lieutenant.

Official results from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) are expected within a week of the August 9 election. But Kenyan media have already published differing tallies, sparking confusion among people anxious for a result. To win, a presidential candidate must secure more than half the vote and at least 25 percent of ballots cast in 24 of Kenya’s 47 counties.

Throughout a campaign season that occasionally descended into mud-slinging between Ruto and Odinga, the rivals each sought to convince Kenyan voters that they are the best choice to tackle several challenges facing the country. Voters expressed worry about the ever-increasing cost of living and high unemployment amid economic inequality, to endemic political corruption. The country has been battered by drought, while public debt has soared to more than two-thirds of GDP.

Amid widespread voter apathy, turnout on August 9 was way down on the previous election held in 2017. And while most attention is on the two leading presidential candidates, in the final days of campaigning there were signs of a late swell in public support for a third candidate, George Wajackoyah. If that backing translates into votes, Wajackoyah could deny Odinga and Ruto the threshold they must reach to avoid an unprecedented second round of voting.

While most media attention was on the race for the presidency, grassroots politicians struggled for wider recognition. In the run-up to election day female candidates reported abuse that often escalated into physical attack – further complicating efforts to boost women’s representation.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at what may lie ahead for Kenya as the country awaits a final election result.

In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Shikoh Kihika, @Shikohkihika
Founder, Tribeless Youth

Bina Maseno, @BinaMaseno
Director, Badili Africa Organisation