World

Kenyans go to the polls to choose new president from two familiar faces

Kenyans have started voting for a new president amid widespread economic issues and corruption in the country.

Longtime opposition leader Raila Odinga, who is backed by the outgoing president, faces William Ruto, who styles himself as the outsider.

Mr Ruto, 55, has served as deputy president for the past nine years, though he has fallen out with President Uhuru Keyatta.

Kenya's Deputy President and presidential candidate William Ruto casts his vote during the general elections, at Kosachei Primary School, Kenya August 9, 2022. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
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Presidential candidate William Ruto casts his vote

The election is considered close, and East Africa’s economic hub could see a presidential runoff for the first time.

But large numbers of young people have not registered to vote, electoral commission figures show.

Many say they are frustrated by widening inequality and an entrenched political system overseen by the elite.

Voters started to cast their ballots after polls opened at 6am local time (4am UK time).

More on Kenya

Voters queue before casting their ballots during the general election by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in Mashimoni village of Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya August 9, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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Voters queue in Mashimoni village in the Kibera slums of Nairobi

President Kenyatta is stepping down after reaching the end of his two-term limit.

Mr Odinga, 77, is a veteran opposition leader who, this time round, has won President Kenyatta’s endorsement.

Many outsiders are watching the election closely. Kenya is a stable nation in a volatile region, a close Western ally that
hosts regional headquarters for Alphabet, Visa and other international groups.

But inside Kenya, some feel the vote for president, parliament and local authorities will not change much.

Voters queue before casting their ballots during the general election by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in Mashimoni village of Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya August 9, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

“There seems to be growing apathy. Turnout may not be as high as it should be, because of disillusionment,” said Macharia Munene, a professor of international relations at the Nairobi-based United States International University Africa.

President Kenyatta has delivered an infrastructure boom – largely funded by foreign loans that will hang over his successors.

He once said there was nothing he could do to tackle corruption and the global rises in the price of food, fuel and
fertilisers have hit Kenyans hard.

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