Distrust is the best word to describe Kenya’s political mood ahead of the upcoming elections. Just as the country was getting ready for the first presidential debate ahead of the elections, President Uhuru Kenyatta pulled out. When the last election was held four years ago he complained that the moderators’ questions were biased. His main opponent, Raila Odinga, followed suit and the debate was postponed. The move is symptomatic of Kenya’s heated campaigning period, which has seen the debate over political reforms and development take a back seat. On August 8, Kenyans will not only elect the next president, they will also vote for new governors, senators and local governments.
Kenya’s two major political camps, Kenyatta’s Jubilee party and Odinga’s National Super Alliance (NASA), generally adhere to ethnic and regional lines. Both sides complain of systematic discrimination through political influence in the media and the electoral bodies. And both sides believe that the other will try to use irregularities in the voting system to rig election results in their respective strongholds.
According to a recent audit by the consulting firm KPMG, 80,000 ghost voters were removed from the electoral register. However, KPMG suspects that up to one million more deceased voters could still be on the register.