, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 14 – Kenya is less than two months away from the first presidential election since deadly post-poll violence five years ago.
While two main candidates—Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga— dominate the race, all candidates have potential influence, especially if voting goes to a second round runoff after the March 4 vote.
Here are penpix of the six candidates.
UHURU KENYATTA: Influential, hugely wealthy and son of Kenya’s founding president, the 51-year old deputy prime minister faces trial immediately after the election for crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Hailing from the Kikuyu people of central Kenya, Kenyatta’s running mate in the Jubilee Coalition party is former arch-rival William Ruto, who also faces trial at the ICC for violence following the 2007 elections.
RAILA ODINGA: The 68-year-old former communist turned powerful businessman has joined hands with longtime foe Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka. He told AFP Monday he was confident of a first round triumph.
A powerful negotiator, he led a relentless and colourful campaign last time round, but was pipped by President Mwai Kibaki in a controversial vote tallying process that sparked the violent protests. Odinga, who comes from the Luo people of western Kenya, leads the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD).
MUSALIA MUDAVADI: Leader of the United Democratic Forum (UDF), the deputy prime minister is a former running mate of Odinga in 2007 polls. This time round, the political chameleon briefly joined Kenyatta’s party, hoping to lead it, but later split to run alone after his bid failed. The 52-year old, who comes from western Kenya’s Luhya tribe, is yet to name a running mate.
MARTHA KARUA: A lawyer and former justice minister, she was once a staunch supporter of outgoing President Mwai Kibaki and his policies until her resignation in 2009, citing interference in the discharge of her duties.
The 55-year old Kikuyu is the only female candidate. Brought up in a humble rural area of central Kenya, she was appointed a magistrate aged 24, before becoming an MP a decade later.
PETER KENNETH: Youngest of the candidates, 47-year old Kenneth stresses his mixed ethnicity presents a “tribe less candidate” and has little time for “negative ethnicity.” A junior government minister, his coalition brings together his Kenya National Congress (KNC) party and the Party of Action (POA). He has named 33-year-old Ronnie Osumba to be his running-mate.
JAMES OLE KIYAPI: An academic and forestry expert who has taught at both Kenyan and international universities, the 51-year old former senior civil servant heads the Restore and Build Kenya (RBK) party, with former teacher Winnie Kaburu as his running mate.