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Kenya hopes elections will be free of violence as the campaign enters its final stages | World News


Millions of Kenyans will vote for their next president this Tuesday.

It’s a close race, with former prime minister Raila Odinga just six points ahead of vice-president William Ruto in the latest poll.

Concerns are growing that a contested outcome could spark post-election violence between staunch supporters of the two candidates.

Mr. Odinga will run for president for the fifth time on the basis of anti-corruption and universal health care.

His rival Mr Ruto is leaning on his self-made platform and positioning himself as a voice for “hustlers” – promising to tackle Kenya’s staggering 40% youth unemployment .

His source of wealth and moderate stance on corruption have been a point of criticism.

The 77-year-old and elite background as the son of Kenya’s first vice-president Jaramogi Odinga has been seen by opponents as detached from the realities of everyday Kenyans – a reality that is becoming increasingly common. worse as the cost of living crisis mounts.

Ruth gives her 3-month-old baby April in Nairobi's Mukuru neighborhood.  She's worried about election violence
Picture:
Ruth breastfeeding April

‘Today sucks, I have no money’

More than half of Nairobi’s population lives in informal settlements.

Mukuru, one of the capital’s largest slums, has about 900,000 residents.

One of them is Ruth, a mother of three, who is struggling more than ever.

Read more: Meet the Kenyan presidential candidate campaigning on cannabis and hyena testicles

Ruth said: “I could go to my boss and he said to me ‘today’s bad, I don’t have any money’ so I had to go back and find another way to feed the kids.

Ruth’s bag was packed.

Like many here, she plans to take her young children to the countryside until after the election.

Her neighbor, Jane Wanjiru, is also leaving: “We’re not sure what’s going to happen. There’s a tension going on.”

Tensions are running high among rival supporters ahead of next Tuesday's election
Picture:
Tensions are running high among rival supporters

‘Only fools fight’

Concern for a peaceful transition stems from a tumultuous past.

Every general election in Kenya since 1997 has featured instances of electoral violence.

In 2007, more than 1,000 people were killed and 600,000 displaced as rival Kikiyu and Luo tribes both claimed victory.

Kenya has one of the largest economies in Africa and is among the continent’s most influential countries.

What happens in next week’s elections will impact far beyond the country’s borders, and there are high hopes that they will pass peacefully.

In a trendy student bar across town, young Nairoba people gather for an open mic at night in the hope that the sound system will dispel doubts in the democratic process.

In a trendy Nairobi bar, friends Kodong Mwangi and Tess Moraa say they hope the day passes peacefully.
Picture:
Kodong Mwangi and Tess Moraa hope the day passes peacefully

Kadong Mwangi, 24, said: “What we ask is for everyone to be at peace.

Back in Mukuru, a heated political debate at a car wash ends with assurances from both sides in the race that they will accept the political outcome.

During a shouting chorus, one man said: “Why should we fight? We won’t fight – only fools fight.”



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