Africa

Profiles of Kenya's presidential candidates

  • 1 March 2013
  • From the section Africa

Eight candidates are vying to succeed Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki in Monday's election - the first since some 1,300 people were killed in the violence that followed the disputed 2007 contest.

Only four are seen as having serious chances, three of them - Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta and Wycliffe Mudavadi - scions of long-standing political dynasties. Here, BBC Monitoring profiles all the candidates.

Raila Odinga

Prime Minister Raila Odinga is making his third attempt at the presidency, having unsuccessfully stood in 1997 and 2007. Widely regarded as the favourite this time, he claims to have been robbed of victory by vote-rigging in the last election.

The dispute prompted widespread violence, which was ended by a power-sharing deal under which Mr Odinga became prime minister. The post is to be abolished under the new 2010 constitution.

Born the son of Kenya's first vice-president, Jaramogi Oginga Odina, in 1945, he has a passionate following in his native Nyanza region, in Kenya's west. He is unpopular in central Kenya, the heartland of the Kikuyu community, who are seen as rivals of Mr Odinga's Luo people.

He is the candidate of the Coalition of Reforms and Democracy (Cord). This includes the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), which he formed to challenge his arch-rival, outgoing President Mwai Kibaki in 2007, whom he helped get elected 2002 before falling out with him. His supporters calls him Agwambo - "Act of God" in Luo.

Full profile: Raila Odinga

Uhuru Kenyatta

Uhuru Kenyatta is the son of Kenya's founding President, Jomo Kenyatta, and also said to be heir to one of the country's largest fortunes.

Currrently a deputy prime minister, he has been indicted by the ICC for alleged crimes against humanity during the 2007-8 post-election violence. Far from wrecking his presidential bid, as was expected, the charges have galvanised support for him among those who resent them as foreign interference.

Mr Kenyatta's Jubilee Coalition has a powerful source of support in two of Kenya's major ethnic groups - his own Kikuyu and the Kalenjin of running mate William Ruto, who has also been indicted by the ICC. The Kikuyu in particular see Mr Kenyatta as the Njamba ("hero") who "defended" them in 2007.

A fierce critic of Mr Odinga, Mr Kenyatta lost to President Kibaki in 2002 after having been groomed as successor to former President Daniel arap Moi. He backed Mr Kibaki in 2007, becoming one of the most powerful members of his cabinet. Born in 1961, he would be Kenya's youngest ever president.

Full profile: Uhuru Kenyatta

Wycliffe Mudavadi

Soft-spoken Wycliffe Mudavadi is making his first bid for the presidency after having been running mate to Mr Kenyatta in 2002 and Mr Odinga in 2007. He is the other of two deputy prime ministers, and is seen as a potential kingmaker in the event of a run-off.

Born a member of the numerous Luhya community in western Kenya in 1960, he is the son of a prominent former politician, Moses Mudamba Mudavadi. His family has close ties with former President Moi, Mr Mudavadi Snr having served as a minister under Mr Moi and marrying a relative of the president.

His Amani Coalition includes Mr Moi's former ruling Kenya African National Union (Kanu) party.

Often depicted in cartoons as a harmless and gullible character, he is sometimes accused of being too laid back and lacking political toughness.

Full profile: Musalia Mudavadi

Martha Karua

The only woman standing for the presidency, Martha Karua was a strong supporter of President Kibaki until they fell out in April 2009.

Standing for her National Rainbow Coalition-Kenya party, she sees herself as a reformist battling widespread corruption. Her critics accuse her of having failed to make much headway while serving as justice minister under Mr Kibaki.

An ethnic Kikuyu, Ms Karua was born in 1957 in central Kenya. She became an MP in 1992, making her name as a vociferous critic of the Moi government.

Peter Kenneth

Peter Kenneth, an assistant minister for planning, says he is "not a career politician", adding that he avoids tribal politics and can unite Kenya.

Born in a low-income district of Nairobi in 1965, Mr Kenneth says he comes from a humble background and was educated through charity. He is of mixed parentage and since 2002 has represented a central Kenya constituency.

A former banker, he stresses his economic expertise and promises to solve what he sees as Kenya's main problems - unemployment and food security. He is standing for the Eagle coalition.

James ole Kiyiapi

Academic and former senior civil servant James ole Kiyapi is a leading critic of career politicians.

The candidate of the Restore and Build Kenya (RBK), which has no seats in parliament, he promises to fix what he calls Kenya's problem of "recycling failed leaders" and to "give back power to the people".

He has sharply criticised Kenya's courts after the High Court refused to rule on whether Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto should be barred from the election because of their ICC indictments. Born in south-west Kenya in 1961, he is an ethnic Maasai.

Paul Muite

Paul Muite is a veteran lawyer who was at the forefront of the campaign for democratic reform in the early 1990s.

He is the candidate of the Safina (Ark) political party, which he co-founded. He promises "social and economic justice" and wants to propel Kenya to developed-nation status within five years. Born in 1945, he served as MP for a constituency just outside Nairobi in 1992-2007.

An ethnic Kikuyu from central Kenya, Mr Muite is a prominent critic of established Kikuyu politicians, including Mr Kibaki and Mr Kenyatta. He is also involved in a lawsuit by independence war veterans against the British government.

Muhamud Dida

Muhamud Dida was a virtual political unknown before standing for president and portrays himself as a defender of the common man. Born in 1975, he is the youngest candidate and the only Muslim in the race.

He is of mixed heritage from Wajir, a town in the Somali-majority area of Kenya; his mother is a Kenyan-Somali and his father is from the Borana community.

A former high school teacher, he has turned out to be something of an entertainer amid the otherwise rough, ethnically-tinged politics of Kenya. He is well liked by social media commentators for his often quirky comments, although this has had no impact on his low poll ratings.

He puts his entire campaign budget at $5,300 (£3,500), and has described top government salaries as "madness".

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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