Kenya’s presidential race has hit a record after attracting 47 aspirants to join Kenya’s August 2022 general election, even as major political parties plot spirited fights against politicians going it alone.
If the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) clear them all to contest, this could be Kenya’s longest presidential election ballot paper since multi-party elections in 1992.
However, the leading contenders include Deputy President William Ruto and Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party boss Raila Odinga and Safina flagbearer Jimi Wanjigi.
It’s not just the presidential race that the number of independent candidates has shot up since a total of 7,111 individuals are seeking to run as independents for various elective seats ahead of today’s deadline.
So far 104 individuals have been cleared to run for governor while another 141 are seeking to Senate seats as independent candidates and 47 woman rep positions have attracted a total of 110 independent aspirants while the number of those gunning for the 290 parliamentary seats has hit 944.
Another 5,765 have been cleared by the office to run for the 1,450 county assembly positions.
In 2017, IEBC cleared Japheth Kaluyu, Michael Wainaina and Joseph Nyagah to run for president as independent candidates.
In that election, the registrar cleared a total of 4,950 individuals but only 4,002 got the IEBC nod to feature in different ballots.
As the number of independent candidates rise, the main political parties have declared war against their candidatures. President Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party, Mr Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and Dr Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) are among the parties that have vowed to lock out the hopefuls from eating into their strongholds.
The August 9 polls has also witnessed a drastic increase in the number of fringe parties fielding candidates. Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu revealed that, out of 82 parties cleared to participate in the polls, 80 have fielded candidates.
Ms Nderitu attributed the surge to the realization by politicians that they can run as independent candidates even after losing in the primaries.