Author: Deborah

Raila Odinga vows to bring Kenyans together after a year of rising ethnic divisions

Raila Odinga vows to bring Kenyans together after a year of rising ethnic divisions

See the chaotic scenes as Kenya elects new president

Kenya votes on Thursday to elect its first ever female president and a new head of the country’s powerful armed forces.

The contest between Raila Odinga, a star of Kenyan politics who has been running in the first-round polls for weeks, and his main rival, William Ruto, has highlighted decades-old divisions in the country.

Ruto, a former army officer and veteran leader of the military opposition party, the KANU, is an outspoken critic of the president and accused of trying to overthrow his government.

He has accused Odinga of being behind a string of bombings that killed scores of Kenyans and that he failed to bring to justice those behind the bombings.

Ruto’s candidacy has angered a lot of Kenyans who see him as a stooge of the president.

“The whole country has been divided against itself. You can see that in the polls. People want a president who will speak to them, not just about the past,” said Tumaini Wamukoya, the chairwoman of Kenya Women’s League.

Odinga, an ethnic Luo who was Kenya’s vice president before being appointed president last month, has vowed to change that by bringing Kenyans together after a year of rising ethnic divisions, rising unemployment and political unrest following a devastating 7.5-magnitude earthquake in 2000.

‘Killing the man’

Odinga said he would hold a referendum if he is elected on Friday to decide whether to change the constitution to empower women. The constitution was drawn up more than a century ago by colonial power Britain. While the document grants women the right to vote, its wording and structure was designed to prevent African women from running for elections.

“I am against changing the constitution, I do not think it is in the country’s interest,” said Odinga, who has been on his campaign trail since Sunday. “The constitution is in place. When we change it, the country will be changing as well.”

The president has insisted that he must be voted in by Kenyan voters because he is Kenya’s leader.


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