Kenya Elections 2022: Raila Odinga and William Ruto in tight race for president

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People in a polling stationImage source, AFP
Image caption,
Voters queued since early in the morning at polling stations across Kenya

Logistical delays and a failure of the identification kit in some parts of the country marred a largely peaceful election day in Kenya.

Polls are now officially closed but voting has been extended in places which opened late.

This vote follows an intense campaign dominated by debates about living costs, unemployment and corruption.

The frontrunners for president are ex-Prime Minister Raila Odinga and current Deputy President William Ruto.

Kenyans were also electing a new parliament and local administrations.

The electoral commission is yet to announce the total turnout, but by 16:00 (13:00 GMT) - an hour before polls closed - just over 56% of the 22 million registered voters had cast their vote.

A top election official in Kenya's central region of Nyeri told journalists that turnout has been low in that part of the country compared to 2017.

The counting of votes, which takes place at the polling stations, was expected to start soon after they closed with the collation of the presidential votes a priority.

Earlier, Mr Odinga was mobbed by supporters when he went to vote in Kibra - one of his strongholds in the capital, Nairobi.

He did not speak to the press, but his wife, Ida Odinga, said he was "upbeat about the election".

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Presidential candidates William Ruto (L) and Raila Odinga (R) have both voted

When Mr Ruto voted in the town of Eldoret in the Rift Valley he pledged to accept the election result.

"I think for the first time in the history of multi-party democracy in Kenya, all the candidates have undertaken that they will accept the outcome of the results," he told the BBC.

A dispute over election results in 2007 led to weeks of violence leading to the deaths of an estimated 1,200 people and forced about 600,000 people to flee from their homes

On Tuesday, there was some frustration among the early morning voters at a polling station in a primary school in the Westlands area of Nairobi.

They were blocked from entering the compound of the school for 90 minutes.

Image source, BBC/Peter Njoroge
Image caption,
People were frustrated by delays at one polling station in the capital, Nairobi

The reason for the delay was not clear and some people started chanting: "We want to vote!"

"I was here very early. It's been disappointing that we got here early and had to wait for a long time," voter Alex Kipchoge told the BBC.

When voting did get under way, however, the process went well.

"I was quite excited. I've been waiting for this for quite a long time and I'm happy that I've actually had the chance to vote," first-time voter Abigail Awili said.

There were also delays in the coastal area of Mombasa and some parts of the north-east of the country. And in parts of Kakamega county, in the west, some electronic fingerprint scanning kits failed to work.

But the electoral commission said that nationwide only 200 broke down out of a total of more than 46,000.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Voters were identified by the thumb or finger prints

The results of the last presidential election in 2017 were annulled after the Supreme Court ruled that the electoral commission had not followed the law when it came to the electronic transmission of the vote tallies from the polling stations.

Judges ruled that "illegalities and irregularities" had taken place.

A re-run was won by Mr Kenyatta, but boycotted by Mr Odinga - the main opposition candidate at the time.

The chairman of the electoral commission, Wafula Chebukati, who was also in charge of the 2017 vote, has frequently tried to reassure Kenyans that his team will be up to the task this time.

Baba v Hustler

This election looks like it will be a tight race between frontrunners Mr Odinga, 77, and Mr Ruto, 55.

Mr Odinga - a long-serving opposition leader, nicknamed Baba ("father") by his supporters, is running for president for a fifth time. Mr Ruto, who has tried to emphasise his connection with ordinary Kenyans by calling himself a "hustler", is taking his first stab at the presidency.

Two other candidates - David Mwaure and George Wajackoya - are also in the race.

To win the presidential race in the first round, a candidate needs:

  • more than half of all the votes cast across the country
  • at least 25% of the votes cast in a minimum of 24 counties.

After counting the votes, officials will then take a photo of the final tally and send the image to both the constituency and national tallying centres.

To ensure transparency the media, political parties and civil society groups have been urged to run their own tallies using final results declared at the more than 40,000 polling stations.

But only the electoral commission can declare the winner of the presidential election after verifying the physical and digital forms sent to the national tallying centre.

It has seven days to announce the result.

Who is in the race to run Kenya?

Learn more about Kenya’s presidential candidates

Choose a candidate to view their bio

Raila Amollo Odinga

Azimio la Umoja Coalition

  • Age: 77
  • Nicknamed “Baba”
  • Son of former vice-president
  • Trained as an engineer in what was then East Germany
  • Prime minister from 2008 to 2013 in the unity government created after post-election violence
  • Formed alliance with ex-political enemy President Uhuru Kenyatta
  • Four-time unsuccessful presidential candidate
  • Championed multiparty democracy in the one-party era.
  • Detained twice (1982-88 and 1989-91) as a political prisoner.
  • Seen as a formidable campaigner able to draw large crowds.
  • Achieve double-digit economic growth through investment in small business and manufacturing sector.
  • Provide affordable quality healthcare for all.
  • Disburse $50 (£42) a month to two million needy households.

William Samoei Ruto

Kenya Kwanza Alliance

  • Age: 55
  • Worked as a street trader as a teenager.
  • Has a PhD in plant ecology from the University of Nairobi.
  • Served as deputy president since 2013 but fell out with boss President Uhuru Kenyatta.
  • One of Kenya’s biggest maize farmers.
  • Charged by the International Criminal Court over post-election violence – charges later dropped.
  • Portrays himself as champion of the downtrodden.
  • Coined phrase “hustler nation”
  • Owns huge parcels of land but the source of his wealth is a subject of speculation.
  • Praised as an effective agriculture minister from 2008-2010.
  • Seen as a powerful orator and robust media interviewee
  • Give all Kenyans subsidised health insurance cover and a fee waiver for poor households.
  • Allocate $420m annually to support small and medium-sized enterprises.
  • Appoint a gender-balanced cabinet.

George Wajackoyah

Roots Party

  • Age: 63
  • Holds a masters in international development law from the UK’s University of Warwick.
  • Says he has 17 university degrees
  • Worked in police intelligence before he fled the country in 1990 to escape from torture
  • Gained notoriety with eye-catching policies
  • Lived on the streets of the capital as a child and was rescued by Hare Krishna worshippers
  • Partner in a law firm he established in 2018
  • Campaigns wearing a tracksuit, T-shirt and headscarf rather than a smart suit
  • Legalise the farming and production of marijuana for industrial and medical use
  • Switch to a four-day working week from Monday to Thursday
  • Invest in snake farming to extract the venom which can be exported

David Mwaure Waihiga

Agano Party

  • Age: 65
  • Practised law for more than three decades
  • Also an ordained reverend
  • Previously ran for MP, senator and county governor – losing each time
  • Founded Agano Party in 2006
  • Says he brings a “breath of fresh air” to the top of politics
  • First expressed an interest in running for president in 2013
  • Set up an asset recovery agency under the presidency to recover stolen funds
  • Slash income tax by half and get rid of it altogether for medics and police
  • Give incentives to manufacturers and entrepreneurs to create jobs