…or why Uhuru vs Odinga is at an all time high On Tuesday, 8th August, there will be a general elections in Kenya. Some 19 million Kenyans are expected to go to the polls to elect their next president, alongside their deputies, senators, governors and representatives of local assemblies. Ten years after the post-election violence of 2007–2008, which had left 1,200 dead, almost every citizen of the African nation fears a return of the bloody clashes. Here are the six questions that are crucial to the Kenyan general elections. 1. Who are the presidential candidates? They are eight in the race, but only two really count. Uhuru Kenyatta, 55, the outgoing president, is looking forward to running for a second term and Raila Odinga, 72, the leader of the opposition, is on his fourth presidential campaign. Uhuru Kenyatta, 55, the outgoing president, is looking forward to running for a second term and Raila Odinga, 72, the leader of the opposition, is on his fourth presidential campaign. The two men know each other very well and had already clashed in 2013. They are heirs of two dynasties that have structured Kenyan policy since independence. Their fathers, Jomo Kenyatta and Oginga Odinga, were respectively the first president and vice president of the country. 2. What role does the ethnic factor play? It is predominant. Ethnic Group Distribution in Kenya In Kenya, politics is not a matter of ideas but subtle alliances between the country’s 44 ethnic groups (and innumerable sub-tribes). Kenyatta is affiliated to the Kikuyu, the largest tribal group in the country, with 17% of the population and also allied with the powerful Kalenjin tribe, which represents 12% of the population. And a great of Kalenjin in the Rift Valley are loyal to Vice President William Ruto. The duo, termed by local media as “Uhuruto”, is united within a great party, the Jubilee Party. On the other side, a coalition of parties came together to form the National Super Alliance (NASA), which Raila Odinga stands for. The latter is the undisputed leader of the Luo, who live on the shore of Lake Victoria (10% of the population). He is also supported by the leaders of the Luhya (13% of the population) and Kamba (9.8% of the population) communities. The opposition also has the majority among the Mijikenda (4.9% of the population) and the famous Masai (2% of the population). 3. Who is the favorite? The race is tight. The most reliable polls currently give Kenyatta 47% and Odinga 44%, with only 5% of undecided voters. But NASA has a good dynamics in the polls and catches up little by little without delay on the Jubilee Party. Except that several factors play against the opposition. First is participation; pro-NASA regions historically have a high abstention rate in any Kenyan general election. The then coalition was divided, led by five different leaders who have often clashed in the past. Large sections of the Kamba and the Luhya could therefore abstain from the polls altogether or vote for the Jubilee Party to spite NASA. Also, Kenyatta, who has gained popularity among several opposition tribes, such as the Somali or the Samburu, could make a breakthrough in the traditional strongholds of NASA. 4. Is there a risk of fraud? Yes. Especially since last week’s assassination of Chris Msando, a high-ranking official of the country’s electoral commission (IEBC),who was in charge of the computerized logistics of the poll, cast a shadow on the credibility of the process. Kenya’s electoral commission, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has a lot to prove in this election In theory, the system is hypersafe. The 41,000 polling stations across the country will have tactile and biometric tablets provided by Safran that will identify voters and transmit the results in record time via a system secured by IT giants such as IBM, Dell and Oracle. All of this will be closely watched by hundreds of observers from the European Union, the United States and the African Union. So it will all depend on the efficiency of the electronic system. In 2013, it had failed, creating many uncertainties about the actual results of the vote. Given the state of tension in the country, such a situation repeating would have incalculable consequences. For months, the IEBC has been attacked by the opposition, who have constantly criticized its supposed lack of independence and thus the body cannot afford the slightest mistake. 5. Can violence break out? The repetition of a “2007” scenario is unlikely. Indeed, most of the violence then come out from the opposing Kikuyu and the Kalenjin. These two tribes are now allied within the Jubilee Party. However, clashes are possible between Kikuyu and Luo, especially in the slums of Nairobi. Out of fear or precaution, thousands of families have fled the capital, travelling in buses full to ‘brim’ , heading to their native village. The most reliable polls currently give Kenyatta 47% and Odinga 44%, with only 5% of undecided voters. In the face of the possible violence, 180,000 police officers will be deployed on August 8 throughout Kenya, it will be the biggest security operation in the country’s history . But what most international observers fear above all, is an increase in violence at the local level. As a result of the decentralization of the country that started in 2010, the election of the governor is now considered more important than that of the president in most of the 47 counties of the country. There, local competition has become a veritable cut-throat where all shots are allowed — murders and threats included. 6. How much do these elections cost? Very expensive! According to a report by the Kenyan Treasury, the election could even be one of the most expensive in Africa: USD 485 million, or USD25 per voter (against USD11 in Ghana’s latest election, USD5.18 in Tanzania). This figure does not take into account the candidates’ campaign expenses. These super-campaigns would cost, according to local press press, around USD47 million for each presidential candidate and USD6 million for a governor! Originally published at www.businessinsider.com on August 7, 2017.