Kenya Candidates Make Final Bid For Votes As Campaigning Closes

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The frontrunners for Kenya’s presidential election were set to make their final push for votes Saturday, capping months of frenetic campaigning ahead of the August 9 polls.

Deputy President William Ruto and Raila Odinga, a veteran opposition leader now backed by the ruling party, are fighting for the chance to lead the East African powerhouse as it grapples with a cost-of-living crisis.

Previous polls have been marred by violence and continue to cast a dark shadow over the country, where 22.1 million voters will now choose the next president as well as senators, governors, lawmakers, woman representatives and some 1,500 county officials.

The battle for votes has been dominated by mud-slinging, tit-for-tat claims of rigging and a freebie bonanza for supporters, who have been showered with umbrellas, groceries and cash for attending rallies.

After criss-crossing the vast country in recent months, the leading candidates will stage their final campaigns in the capital Nairobi under tight security, with Ruto speaking at the 30,000-seat Nyayo National Stadium and Odinga addressing a rally at Kasarani Stadium, which seats 60,000.

The two candidates had initially announced plans to speak at the Nyayo venue on Saturday afternoon, fuelling fears of a pre-election day showdown.

Lawyers David Mwaure and George Wajackoyah — an eccentric former spy who wants to legalise marijuana —  are also in the fray.

The bitterly fought race has sparked speculation Kenya may see its first presidential run-off, with many worried that a challenge to the result could lead to street violence.




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