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Kenya election 2022: A guide to the presidential candidates

Benita van Eyssen
July 27, 2022

Four candidates are vying to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in Kenya's 2022 election. A guide to who they are and what they promise voters.

Supporters of Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto cheer and raise their hands in the air, many of them are wearing yellow
Kenyans will head to the polls to elect a new president on August 9Image: Thomas Mukoya/REUTERS

Kenya heads to the polls on August 9. This time around, the election commission has cleared only four candidates to run for president, the smallest number of candidates since the 1990s. 

Current President Uhuru Kenyatta is not eligible to run for re-election as he has served the maximum of two five-year terms.

While all four of the 2022 presidential candidates are men, three of them have chosen women as their running mates.

Raila Odinga — Azimio la Umoja

Raila Odinga waves to the crowd from a podium decorated with a giant 'R' for Raila
Raila Odinga, seen here, has the support of current President Uhuru KenyattaImage: Raila Odinga press Team

Raila Odinga is the leader of the Azimio la Umoja alliance, which includes both the ruling Jubilee Party and Odinga's Orange Democratic Party (ODM).

A former member of parliament, Odinga was prime minister from 2008 to 2013 and has been the African Union representative for Infrastructure Development since 2018. 

A key promise in Odinga's election manifesto is the transformation of Kenya's economy.

"We will deliver to Kenyans the third liberation. Several years since we attained independence, we are still struggling to address poverty, illiteracy and sickness," Odinga told voters in May

Martha Karua speaks into a microphone
Raila Odinga's running mate, Martha Karua Image: Joan Pereruan/Nation Media Group/dpa/picture alliance

Odinga, who is known among Kenyans simply as "Raila" or "Baba" (father), has long dominated opposition politics in Kenya. 

Born in Kenya's Kisumu County, Odinga comes from a political family; his father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was the first vice president in independent Kenya. 

In the past, the deep rivalry between Raila Odinga's supporters and those of President Uhuru Kenyatta has resulted in deadly violence.

Odinga studied mechanical engineering in former East Germany in the late 1960s and went on to cultivate business interests in the energy sector while working in Kenya's civil service.

In 1982, he and others were jailed for treason over a bid to overthrow then-President Daniel Arap Moi.

The 2022 election marks Odinga's fifth bid to become president.

William Ruto — Kenya Kwanza

Campaign billboard on a busy street for presidential candidate William Ruto
William Ruto is currently Kenya's deputy president Image: SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images

Kenya Kwanza is an alliance that includes William Ruto's United Democratic Alliance (UDA), Amani National Congress (ANC) and the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy-Kenya (FORD-Kenya).

William Ruto has been Kenya's deputy president since 2013. He previously served as minister of home affairs, minister of agriculture, and minister of higher education.  

Ruto has promised to introduce a new bottom-up economic model in Kenya if he is elected. His election manifesto suggests radical economic reforms to empower the underprivileged. Ruto has also pledged to implement a two-thirds gender rule in elective and appointive positions in the public sector within 12 months and a Cabinet comprised equally of men and women.

In a recent interview with DW, the 55-year-old spoke of his plan to transform the agricultural sector to ensure food security.

"Agriculture is the most important sector that we have in Kenya. ... There is absolutely no reason why we cannot produce enough food. There is no reason why four million Kenyans are starving," he said.Ruto was born in Uasin Gishu County. He is a graduate of the University of Nairobi who entered politics via the Youth for Kanu '92 lobby that campaigned for the incumbent president Daniel Arap Moi during Kenya's first multiparty elections in 1992.

Rigathi Gachagua sits on stage during a rally
Running mate: Rigathi Gachagua Image: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images

Ruto has party-hopped frequently since 2005. He parted ways with the ruling Jubilee Party in 2021 and was endorsed in March by the UDA to contest the presidential vote. 

In 2017, he and incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta were running mates for a second time. The two have since fallen out.

David Mwaure Waihiga — Agano Party

David Mwaura Waihiga meets with Kenya’s electoral commission officials in Nairobi
Presidential candidate David Mwaura Waihiga has promised to fight corruption and tribalism if electedImage: Andrew Wasike/DW

David Mwaure Waihiga is a lawyer and ordained church minister who founded the Agano Party in 2006. He is making his first run for Kenya's presidency. He withdrew from the 2013 presidential election race, which was won by Uhuru Kenyatta. 

Waihiga has in the past also been a contender for positions as Kenya's chief justice and deputy chief justice.

Ruth Mucheru Mutua at the Agano Party offices
Running mate: Ruth Mucheru MutuaImage: Andrew Wasike/DW

He has pledged to fight corruption if he becomes president. 

"Ten years down the line we want to be remembered as the presidency that slayed the dragon of corruption, wastage and mismanagement," he said at the launch of his manifesto on July 4. 

Waihiga was born in Nakuru County. He is reported to be in his early 50s and describes himself as a "man of God."

George Wajackoyah — Roots Party 

George Wajackoyah und Justina Wamae on an election billboard
George Wajackoyah and his running mate Justina WamaeImage: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images

The Roots Party leader has caught the attention of many with bold statements about cannabis, snake venom and hyena testicles. George Wajackoyah says these products can bring Kenya much-needed revenue.

Prof Wajackoyah, as he is known, has pledged to "legalize weed" for industrial and medicinal use to enable Kenyans to profit from its export. The revenue would help to service national debt and solve unemployment, Wajackoyah has said.

His plan when it comes for dealing with corruption? "Death penalty is the only way; for the first five years of my time as president, I think these people should experience the hardships they have put Kenyans into; by looting the country without caring." he said on Kenya's KTN TV in February.

According to a report in the online edition of the Kenyan newspaper The Standard, Wajackoyah, who is in his 60s, was born in Matungu in Western Province, lived on the streets as a teenager and spent time in the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Roots Party leader has been a hit on social media in the run-up to the August 9 vote.

Mariel Mueller in Nairobi contributed to this article.

Edited by: Kate Hairsine

Benita van Eyssen is a digital content planner, producer and editor@benita_v_eyssen
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