Kenya’s ruling party backs opposition leader Odinga for presidency | world news
NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya’s ruling Jubilee party has backed veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga in a presidential election scheduled for August, in a sharp rejection of Vice President William Ruto, who has also announced his candidacy .
Former political prisoner Odinga, 77, has run his last four races as an anti-establishment candidate keen to shake up governance if elected, but has now teamed up with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Kenyatta, who will not be on the ballot due to a constitutional limit of two five-year terms, chose to back Odinga against his deputy Ruto, who Kenyatta says is unfit to be president of Kenya’s biggest economy. from East Africa.
“Very early in my second term, I made it clear to the people of Kenya that mine was a choice of leadership rather than politics,” Kenyatta told a meeting of the party’s national council of delegates on Saturday.
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In Odinga’s last three election campaigns in 2007, 2013 and 2017, he challenged the results, saying his victories were stolen. Deadly clashes followed the votes in 2007 and 2017.
But he made peace with Kenyatta in early 2018, effectively sidelining Ruto, who is running with a new party called United Democratic Alliance, after quitting Jubilee.
Odinga touts his long experience in national leadership, including a stint as prime minister.
He also promised to stamp out widespread corruption, pay a monthly allowance of 6,000 shillings ($52.75) to the unemployed and unite Kenya’s ethnic groups.
Odinga, Kenyatta and Ruto are from three of the four largest ethnic groups. The two candidates are battling for support from Kenyatta’s most populous Kikuyu group, which has produced three of the country’s four presidents since independence from Britain in 1963.
Ruto has wooed Kikuyu voters by pledging to shift the government’s economic focus from big infrastructure projects and large state-owned enterprises to small businesses owned by what he calls “scammers”.
He sought to portray himself as a champion of the poor and dismissed Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president, and Odinga, the son of its first vice president, as out of touch dynastic elites.
The delegates, all bearing the party’s red signature, also officially removed Ruto as deputy party leader from Jubilee at Saturday’s convention.
($1 = 113.7500 Kenyan shillings)
(Reporting by Duncan Miriri Editing by Katharine Houreld and Mark Potter)
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