Kenya one week before the general election 2022
Too close to call, too important to go wrong
In just a week, Kenyans get to decide one of Africa’s most anticipated elections in 2022. Elections are hold at all levels, national, regional and local. Nearly 2000 posts need to be filled. Usually chaotic and disputed, each election cycle to date has tested the strength of Kenya’s democracy and its institutions. This time will be no exception. The biggest prize up for grabs is the presidenvcy. Amongst the four candidates in the race, Raila Odinga and Wiliam Ruto are the frontrunners. While it is hard to predict the winner of this race, the losers will likely be Kenyan voters. Kenyans are not offered a credible choice between competing political visions for their future. Instead, they must decide between unappealing candidates, who seem to be occupied with their own political and business ambitions rather than the interests of the very citizens they aspire to represent.
Much is at stake. Kenya is the economic powerhouse of East Africa. Controversial elections will scare off investors and could weaken the Kenyan shilling, impacting a region still recovering from the economic downturn of COVID-19 and dealing with the economic effects of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. During this volatile moment for the multilateral world order, it would be bad news for the West if one of its few reliable partners in Africa turns inwards to deal with a messy election outcome. Perhaps most importantly, African democracy needs the elections in Kenya to go smoothly. Despite their flaws, Kenyan elections are amongst the most credible in the region and could be a welcomed break from the democratic backsliding seen in many other parts of Africa recently.