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As Kenya prepares for a presidential election, why are some Kenyans campaigning for both sides | World news

The two front-runners in the race for Kenya’s presidential seat held their final campaign rallies ahead of next week’s vote.

At the Nyayo National stadium in Nairobi, yellow flags stretch across the stands as supporters chant the name of Deputy President William Ruto.

In the polls, he is only six points behind his rival and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga – both men say they are confident of victory.

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Supporters in yellow at the William Ruto rally

Mr Ruto’s campaign has focused on one clear theme: supporting the “hustler nation”, with him positioned as the hustler-in-chief.

It is an appealing slogan for young people here, who are faced with terrible unemployment and make up almost 40% of registered votes.

In these difficult times, young Kenyans are finding creative ways to make ends meet.

At the stadium we met a group of Nairobians who seemed deeply invested in a Ruto win. Dressed in bright yellow, they hoist posters of him above their heads and sing along to campaign songs.

We talk to them outside in the parking lot.

“We’re hustlers,” Sylvester said, when asked who they were.

By “hustlers” they do not mean the generic label put out by the Ruto campaign, but real life hustlers who work the political landscape themselves.

Some are campaigning for both candidates to make extra money

“We get paid”, he says. “Rates are from 500 shillings – about $5 – $10.”

The election comes against a backdrop of a deepening cost of living crisis as rising fuel and food prices cause hardship for millions across the country.

Sylvester explains that accepting this money from neighborhood recruiters who he calls “political brokers” has become a necessity in this time of economic pollution.

After an hour of showing their “support” for the vice president, they leave the stadium and travel 30 minutes across town to attend their next paid campaign rally.

They stop on the road to safely change into the blue and white shades of Mr Ruto’s main rival, Raila Odinga, out of sight of supporters from both sides.

When you​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​are facing an opposite side, you have to be very careful,” says Sylvester.

Supporters in dark blue at the Raila Odinga rally
Supporters in dark blue are at the Raila Odinga rally
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Supporters in dark blue are at the Raila Odinga rally

Many Kenyans are concerned about public safety in this time of tension.

In 2007, more than half a million people were displaced and at least a thousand killed following widespread violence over a disputed election. That was Mr. Odinga’s second bid for the presidency, and this will be his fifth.

We caught up with him from the back of his last campaign rally and asked if he will accept the outcome if he loses.

“We will accept and congratulate the winner if he wins fairly and also expect him to do the same,” Mr Odinga said.

Despite these assurances, there is no certainty that fairness and calm will prevail next week.

On the eve of the latest rallies, Mr Ruto shared his confidence in a clear win.

“By all indications we have won this election,” he said, ignoring the polls.

As Kenya prepares for a presidential election, why are some Kenyans campaigning for both sides | World news

Source link As Kenya prepares for a presidential election, why are some Kenyans campaigning for both sides | World news

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