8 Unique Features in Kenya's 2017 Elections
The Kenyan General Election scheduled for August 8, 2017, has witnessed a number intrigues ranging from campaign methodology to the candidates themselves.
Unique features witnessed in the campaigns have also been historic in nature, setting an all new record in the history of Kenyan elections.
Here are eight aspects that have made the 2017 elections a first of their kind in the country.
1. Highest Number of Candidates Contesting
Kenya's 2017 General Election has a record 16,259 candidates vying for elective seats - which is the highest in Kenya's elections history; over 3,000 up from the 12,400 who vied in 2013.
According to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), 4,950 of these are independent candidates, which is more than there were in the 2013 election.
2. Most Expensive in Kenya
In 2013, the IEBC demanded Sh35 Billion to conduct the first General Election under the newly-promulgated 2010 Constitution.
According to the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Report, the 2017 General Election will cost the Kenyan taxpayer a whopping Sh49.9 Billion ($499 Million) making it the most expensive poll Kenya has had since independence.
3. Raila's Sex Fast
National Super Alliance (NASA) presidential candidate Raila Odinga has been campaigning asking his supporters to desist from sexual intercourse on the eve of elections.
Mr Odinga's clarion call argues that voters are similar to soldiers going to war, saying sex before the day warriors go to battle is a bad omen that could result in defeat.
Read More: Raila Declares No Sex on August 7th
4. Closure of All Bars
The National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) has recommended that bars be closed one week before the August elections.
The move is intended to ensure Kenyans will not be under the influence of alcohol when going to vote.
5. Campaign Songs
Compared to previous election years where politicians adopted songs that were in line with their campaign message, this year has seen an influx of musicians who have composed songs specifically for the political campaigns.
The two top political blocs each have a song composed for their bid. Eng Onyi Jalamo is the hitmaker behind the "NASA Tibiim" song, while gospel artiste Ben Githae has composed "Ndani Tena" campaigning for the Jubilee team.
Onyi Jalamo, however, conveyed that he had not received any payments from the NASA coalition or its leaders for the use of the song at their rallies.
Read More: Kenyan Musician Shames NASA Co-principals
6. "Keyboard Warriors"
The nature of political campaigns has evolved with this year having witnessed the upsurge of social media campaigning.
Jubilee and the NASA coalition have mobilised teams of social media personalities to endorse their messages and malign their opponents using various trending hashtags.
For instance, during the ODM delegates conference where Raila Odinga was officially unveiled as the party's presidential campaign, the hashtag #10MillionLies trended as anti-opposition sentiments were shared.
#JubileeLies has also been a top trend on Twitter during many of the Jubilee party major events, as anti-Uhuru sentiments were shared.
Social media platforms have also served as a prime campaign field for the politicians as they have utilized the "going Live" option to share real time question-and-answer sessions as well their campaign trail.
7. Viral Hashtag Challenges
Politicians have been the inspiration behind various viral hashtag challenges due to their outbursts and various stunts on their campaign trail.
Machakos gubernatorial candidate Wavinya Ndeti inspired the #WavinyaChallenge after she misconstrued a famous Swahili proverb during a TV interview.
Kenyans picked up on the "Yaliyopita si ndwele" accident and went on to massacre other proverbs using the viral hashtag.
NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga also caused a craze after posting pictures of himself praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Kenyans went on to participate in the hilarious #BabaChallenge where they posted photos of themselves posing as the Opposition leader did.
8. Peace Campaigns
The country has witnessed a surge of peace campaigns from all facets of society as reports continue to stream in on possible election violence hotspots.
Clergy, human rights organizations, musicians, media, independent oversight authorities and individuals have generated wide-spread messages advocating for peaceful elections.
Kenyans.co.ke has initiated the #NaneNaneSiMwisho tag to propagate the call for a peaceful 2017 poll.
Foreign governments also anticipate the emergence of violence in the country and have gone ahead to set up contingencies in case violence erupts as it happened in 2007.
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