Kenyan presidential candidate and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces war crimes charges for election violence five years ago, pledged to focus on security and land reform if he wins next month’s vote.
In its campaign document today, Kenyatta’s National Alliance party pledged to hire an extra 15,000 police a year to provide one police officer for every 800 Kenyans in five years, down from a ratio of 1:1,150 now. The 51-year-old Jubilee Coalition candidate will focus on national cohesion, economic transformation, transparency and accountability, according to a statement outlining the platform.
“The coalition will focus on security -- keeping Kenya safe and secure,” according to the statement. An “industrial revolution” and “land reform -- towards a property-owning democracy” are also among Kenyatta’s plans.
Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president, is campaigning for the presidency even as he prepares to face charges at the International Criminal Court for his role in the ethnic violence surrounding the last elections in 2007. The clashes left more than 1,100 people dead and forced 350,000 to flee their homes.
The March 4 election will be the first since that disputed vote. The unrest hobbled agriculture output, cutting growth by two-thirds to 1.5 percent in 2008. Output is forecast to expand 5.6 percent this year from 5.1 percent in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund.
The National Alliance also pledged today to subsidize fertilizer and farm equipment to improve food production. It will establish an oil and gas fund, giving 5 percent of public revenue back to communities where resources are located and 5 percent to pay for local renewable-energy programs, it said.
Grievances over land have triggered violence in every vote except one since 1992, when multiparty democracy was introduced in Kenya, the world’s largest tea exporter and East Africa’s biggest economy.
The ICC charged Kenyatta, an ethnic Kikuyu, with engaging the Mungiki criminal gang to carry out reprisal attacks against the Luo, Luhya and Kalenjin communities. Kenyatta’s running mate, 46-year-old William Ruto, has been accused of orchestrating attacks on Kikuyu, Kamba and Kisii people. Both men deny the charges. Their trials begin in April.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga was named on Jan 28 as the presidential candidate for the Coalition for Reform and Democracy, which includes his party parties and those of Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Trade Minister Moses Wetangula,.
Kenyatta had 40 percent support from respondents in an Ipsos-Synovate poll published on Jan 25. Odinga, with 46 percent, leads the eight candidates cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission on Jan. 30 to vie for the presidency.
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