Crucial game of numbers that will determine presidential outcome

The launch of the second Mass Voter Registration in Kenya has officially set the stage for an epic and titanic battle that will determine who will become President in August.

Uhuru Ruto rally (President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto wave to their supporters in the run up to the 2013 general elections at Uhuru Park, Nairobi

The Monday launch of the second Mass Voter Registration (MVR) in Kenya has officially set the stage for an epic and titanic battle that will determine who will become the President come the general elections slated for August 8 later this year.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto under the Jubilee Party are seeking re-election pitting them against a formidable but crowded opposition that has yet to pick a sole candidate among themselves with elections barely seven months away.

The opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) led by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Senator Moses Wetang’ula have recently been joined by another former Vice President Musalia Mudavadi.

Mudavadi, the chief architect behind the formation of yet another coalition outfit National Super Alliance (NASA), was this month given the title of “Luhya spokesperson" in an attempt aimed at consolidating the vote rich Western region.

However his entry has received a lukewarm reception by supporters of Wetang’ula, another political supremo from Western, giving credibility to the long held myth that the Luhya community can never be solidly united under one leader heading into a general election.

Ethnic numbers

The tribal factor and ethnic superiority numbers in various strongholds of these leaders will once again play a crucial role in determining the outcome of the elections.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga while urging his supporters to turn out in large numbers, said that these elections will be won during the voter registration exercise which ends on February 14.

“The coming elections will be won in the next 30 days. No sleeping, no taking alcohol until we have all the numbers. It will be a do-or-die for us,” said Raila, who will be taking a fourth stab at the presidency in August.

President Kenyatta last week kicked off his re-election bid by launching an ambitious five-million member recruitment drive and tasked over 10,000 Jubilee Party aspirants to lead the recruitment as well as registration of voters.

During the last elections in 2013, Kenya had a total of 14.3 million registered voters out of which 12.3 million cast their ballot on polling day.

President Kenyatta garnered 6.1 million of these representing 50.07 percent of the total vote thereby avoiding a runoff with his closest challenger Raila who received 5.3 million (43.3 percent).

IEBC targets

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is targeting to enlist 6.1 million new voters to take part in the August elections, a critical figure which can tilt the outcome of the presidency to either side.

Already the IEBC has 15.9 million registered voters in its data base and it seeks to hit the over 20 million mark – the largest ever voter base in the country’s history.

Of the 9.1 million unregistered voters, the IEBC is targeting 6.7 million voters that the opposing political sides are keen to bring to their side within the next 30 days and eventually clinch power for the next five years.

IEBC national outlook on targeted voters

  • Rift Valley – 4.97 million
  • Eastern – 3.34 million
  • Nyanza – 3.09 million
  • Central – 3.08 million
  • Nairobi – 2.69 million
  • Western – 2.36 million
  • Coast - 2.03 million
  • North Eastern – 488, 060

BVR Kits distribution

A total of 7793 Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits will be distributed by the IEBC across 1450 wards in the country’s 290 constituencies.

The IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba allayed fears over allegations of skewed distribution of the kits to favour certain strongholds.

"We have used a fair and the most equitable formula to distribute the BVR kits to each county assembly ward," Chiloba said before the start of the exercise.

According to the distribution, North Rift region will get 918 followed by Central Rift 676, Lower Eastern 651, Nyanza Central 529 and Nyanza South 501 kits.

The IEBC will further conduct voter verification between May 10 and June 9, a process that will ensure that those who died after registration are removed from the final voter register.

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