Sabahi (Washington, DC)

Kenya: Profiles of Kenya's Presidential Candidates

Wajir — With the Kenyan elections set for March 4th, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has cleared eight candidates to vie for the country's top post. Below are the profiles of each presidential candidate, appearing in alphabetical order:

Mohammed Abduba Dida

Mohamud Abduba Dida was born in Kenya's Wajir District in 1975. A former teacher, Dida is competing for the presidency with the Alliance for Real Change. His running mate is Joshua Odongo Onono, also a former teacher.

Dida, a newcomer to the political scene, has vowed to be a president who focuses on the poor. He says education should be free for all Kenyans, and not based on a subsidy system. Dida has expressed confidence in his ability to do well in the elections, as he has said his party enjoys significant support among the youth.

He holds a bachelor's degree in education from Kenyatta University and is currently pursuing a master's in religious studies from the University of Nairobi.

Dida has taught at a variety of schools, including teaching English literature and religion at Daadab Secondary School in the refugee complex and later at Lenana School.

He resigned from teaching in 2009 to start a job placement agency, but he said that venture did not work out due to government corruption.

Martha Wangari Karua

Martha Karua, the only female candidate in the presidential race, was born in September 1957 in Kirinyaga, Central Province. Karua, a parliamentarian for Gichugu, is running under the National Rainbow Coalition with former East African Legislative Assembly member Augustine Lotodo.

Karua has vowed to represent a united Kenya with a platform of economic and social reforms, including universal healthcare and establishing Kenya as a regional economic hub. She said she would commit 10% of Kenya's budget to improving agricultural production, increase renewable energy sources and work to have internet access in 50% of Kenyan homes in five years.

During the presidential debate, she said she would address the high maternal mortality rate by providing free universal access to health care.

Karua has a law degree from the University of Nairobi and master's degree from the United States International University, Nairobi.

From 1981 to 1987, Karua worked in the judiciary, rising from district magistrate to senior resident magistrate. She then had a private practice until 2002.

In 1992, Karua was elected as a member of parliament for Gichugu, a seat she still holds.

In 1997 and 1998, she worked with the Inter-Parties Parliamentary Group to foster the development of a multi-party system in Kenya. In 2008, Karua was appointed minister of justice, national cohesion and constitutional affairs after serving as minister of water resources management and development.

In 2009, Karua resigned from her ministerial position in the coalition government citing frustrations in executing her duties.

Peter Kenneth

Peter Kenneth was born in November 1965 in Bahati, Nairobi. He is a parliamentarian who has specialised in banking. He is seeking the presidency under the Kenya National Congress party, with running mate Ronald Osumba, a former senior manager at Safaricom.

As a candidate, Kenneth has focused on ameliorating unemployment and food insecurity. He has also vowed to better equip the police and pay officers well to encourage them to do a good job, and he believes that development and education in crime-ridden areas will deter unlawful behavior. He plans to pay for his programmes by cutting excess government spending.

Kenneth holds a bachelor's and master's degree in law from the University of Nairobi, with post-graduate work at the Executive Programme International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland.

As a banker, Kenneth began working with the Nationwide Finance Company in 1985, then worked with the Prudential Finance and Bank from 1986 to 1997, where he became a manager. From 1997 to 2002, he worked at the Kenya Reinsurance Company, simultaneously holding titles at the Africa Reinsurance Corporation and the Industrial Development Bank. From 1998 to 2009, he worked as the chairman of Zep Reinsurance Company.

In his political life, Kenneth was first elected as a member of parliament for the Gatanga seat in 2002, a seat he still holds.

From 2003 to 2005, he served as assistant minister in the Ministry of Co-operative Development and Marketing, then as assistant minister in the Ministry of Finance until 2007. Since 2008, he has been assistant minister in the Ministry of Planning, National Development and Vision 2030.

Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta

Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta was born in October 1961. His father is Kenya's first president Jomo Kenyatta, who served from 1964 to 1978. He is the presidential candidate for the Jubilee Alliance, a coalition party formed under Kenyatta's The National Alliance and William Ruto's United Republican Party.

In his coalition's manifesto, Kenyatta says he stands for a united Kenya "under the same dream of building a better Kenya". He said he would focus on the land ownership issue, and intends to turn Kenya into an economic hub, creating an export economy.

Kenyatta has a bachelor's degree in politics and economics from Amherst College in the United States.

After a short stint in the produce delivery business, Kenyatta ran for the Gatundu South parliamentary seat in 1997, but lost. Two years later, President Daniel arap Moi appointed him as the chairman of the Kenya Tourism Board, and in 2001, appointed him to parliament.

Kenyatta ran unsuccessfully for president in 2002, yet won a seat in parliament representing Gatundu South that same year.

He ran for president again in 2007, but withdrew and put his support behind President Mwai Kibaki for re-election. Kibaki appointed Kenyatta minister for local governments in January 2008 before he became deputy prime minister and minister of trade in April 2008 as part of a coalition government deal to end the violence after the 2007 elections.

He was moved to the Ministry of Finance from 2009 to 2012, while remaining deputy prime minister. He resigned as minister of finance in January 2012 after the International Criminal Court (ICC) accused him of committing crimes against humanity for his role in the 2007-2008 violence.

Both Kenyatta and Ruto have faced criticism during the election cycle about their pending cases with the ICC, and Kenyatta responded to this issue during the presidential debate.

James ole Kiyiapi

James ole Kiyiapi was born in May 1961 in Osupuko, Rift Valley Province. A former permanent secretary in multiple ministries, he resigned in 2012 to run with businesswoman Winnie Kaburu under the Restore and Build Kenya Party.

Kiyiapi is running on a platform denouncing tribal politics. He said his first priority if elected would be to focus on youth unemployment, which he called a national disaster. His government, he said, would initiate work to settle land disputes with utmost care and transparency, and would improve agricultural production in the country.

Kiyiapi has a master's degree from Moi University and a doctorate from the University of Toronto in Canada, both in forestry.

From 1988 to 1994, he was a senior research fellow in the faculty of environmental studies at York University in Canada. He served as a lecturer and associate professor at Moi University from 1994 and 2006.

During that time, he also worked as country programme director for the African Wildlife Foundation.

Kiyiapi was appointed as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources in 2006, the Ministry of Medical Services in 2008, and the Ministry of Education in 2010.

Wycliffe Musalia Mudavadi

Deputy Prime Minister Wycliffe Musalia Mudavadi was born in September 1960 in Sabatia, Western Province. He is running under the United Democratic Forum Party in the Amani alliance, with Jeremiah Kioni, a parliamentarian from the Ndaragwa Constituency.

Mudavadi has vowed to bring real economic growth to Kenya by focusing on good governance and poverty alleviation. He said he would tackle corruption in the country by restructuring the judiciary, and recruit more police officers to improve security.

Mudavadi holds a bachelor's degree in land economics from the University of Nairobi. After graduating, he worked at the National Housing Corporation before working in real estate at the Tysons Limited firm.

Mudavadi became a member of parliament in 1989, when he was elected unopposed to take the Sabatia parliamentary seat left vacant after the death of his father, Moses Mudavadi.

After the 1992 general elections, Mudavadi was appointed minister of finance for five years. In 1998, he was appointed minister of agriculture, then minister of information, transport and communications in 1999, and minister of transport and communications in 2001. Throughout this period, he kept the Sabatia parliamentary seat.

In 2002, Mudavadi lost his parliamentary seat, but was appointed vice president by President Daniel arap Moi and held the position for two months. He then ran unsuccessfully for vice-president as Uhuru Kenyatta's running mate in 2002.

Afterwards, Mudavadi helped found the Orange Democratic Movement and vied to be the party's presidential candidate in 2007, but lost the primary to Raila Odinga.

Since then, has served as a member of the World Bank's board of governors and as a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Review of the Constitution.

In 2012, Mudavadi left the Orange Democratic Movement to join the United Democratic Front. He briefly joined Uhuru Kenyatta's Jubilee Alliance, but decided to split in December after the alliance disagreed on who would be the flag bearer.

Paul Kibugi Muite

Paul Kibugi Muite was born in April 1945. He is a former parliamentarian from Kabete who is a founding member and the party leader of Safina. He is running with Shem Ochuodho, former minister of energy and parliamentarian from Rangwe.

Muite said that as president he would address unemployment and improve labour conditions, in part by raising salaries and enforcing labour laws that limit the working day to eight hours. He has also vowed to stop government corruption, which he said has "destined millions of Kenyans to eternal poverty and suffering".

He says he believes in the unity of all Kenyans, regardless of ethnicity, and would work for social and economic improvements for all people. Muite says Kenya is also hurt by its negative reputation internationally for corruption and a poor human rights record, which he resolves to address through education and marketing.

Muite, a human rights lawyer, was a prominent figure in ending Kenya's single party system in the 1990s, which had been established by the Kenya African National Union in 1982.

He served three five-year terms as parliamentarian from Kabete in 1992, 1997 and 2002.

Raila Amollo Odinga

Prime Minister Raila Amollo Odinga was born on January 7, 1945 in Maseno, Nyanza Province, the son of Vice President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. He is running in the Orange Democratic Movement with Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka as his running mate.

Odinga has focused on youth in his campaign, promising to help them gain access to employment and education. He said he will institute cash transfers for the poor and elderly, and create a programme for youth waiting to enter university or looking for jobs to teach in primary schools.

Economically, he said he will put programmes in place to export goods made in Kenyan villages, and support the growth of a steel industry. He said he will improve infrastructure and expand investment in food security through improved agriculture, subsidies for farmers and research.

Odinga has a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the Magdeburg College of Advanced Technology in Germany. He has also been awarded honorary doctorate degrees by the University of Nairobi and the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, United States.

In 1970, he began working as a lecturer in the department of mechanical engineering at the University of Nairobi. In 1974, he left when he was appointed as group standards manager of the newly established Kenya Bureau of Standards, where he became deputy director in 1978.

In 1982, Oginga Odinga was implicated as the financier of a coup attempt against the government of President Daniel arap Moi, who had blocked Oginga Odinga's attempt to register an opposition party. Raila Odinga was charged with treason and detained for six years without trial.

Odinga was released 1988, only to be arrested again that year for involvement with the Kenya Revolutionary Movement, a group pressing for multi-party democracy in Kenya.

Odinga was arrested once again in 1990 and upon release in 1991 he sought asylum in Norway, alleging government attempts to assassinate him.

After the end of the single-party system, Odinga returned in 1992 and joined the Forum for Democracy (FORD), a political party run by his father, and won the Langata Constituency parliamentary seat.

In 1997, Odinga lost a bid for the presidency.

Odinga served as minister of energy from 2001 to 2002 and as minister of roads, public works, and housing from 2003 to 2005.

In 2005, Odinga left FORD and founded the Orange Democratic Movement, under which he ran unsuccessfully for president in 2007. After the ensuing violence, Odinga became prime minister in a power-sharing agreement.

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