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High stakes: The 10 big names to watch now and after polls

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

In the next few days, Kenya's destiny will be determined by ten people on whose shoulders lay the burden of delivering free, fair and transparent elections.

The ten collectively hold the key to the aspiration of 50 million Kenyans, whose wish is to have an election that will give them leaders who will steer the country in the next five years.

Kenyans are usually gripped by anxiety every time they get into the polls and this year it is no different.

The greatest responsibility for steering the electioneering period lies with President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto, Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) senior government officials, communication supremos and heads of security.

Though President Kenyatta is exiting the political scene, he is still the man who calls the shorts until he hands over the sword to the fifth president and therefore plays a critical role in rallying the country to a peaceful election.

Though Uhuru has thrown his weight behind the Azimio presidential candidate, he still remains the symbol of unity and his words will bind the country.

Ruto and Raila are the two front runners in the presidential race. Others are Roots Party presidential candidate Prof George Wajackoyah and Agano Party's David Mwaure.

DP William Ruto and Raila Odinga are the two front runners in the presidential race. [File, Standard]

In the remaining days, the front runners conduct and their utterances will be something to watch. Raila and Ruto who have fanatic support on some bases will need to be careful with their words to ensure that their supporters maintain peace before and after elections.

Already the duo have alleged foul play in the coming polls, with the DP complaining about the government using the provincial administration to influence the polls while Raila has issued demands to IEBC to ensure a credible exercise.

At the same time the IEBC chair, Wafula Chebukati is in the hot seat and every word he utters in the coming days will be taken with utmost seriousness.

In the recent past, Chebukati has come under intense pressure from politicians and security agents over the use of Kiems kit, the printing of ballot boxes, and the arrest of Venezuelans with election materials.

With the Kiems kit and the electronic relaying of the election results, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) and its Director General Ezra Chiloba come into play.

The CAK has the responsibility of ensuring that all the polling stations or the majority have internet connectivity to ensure seamless transmission of elections results to the National Tallying Centre at the Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi.

A few months ago, there was back and forth between the IEBC and CAK over 1,111 polling stations that did not have internet connectivity and the question of who needed to ensure availability of the same. The number has since increased to 1,290. 

  1. President Uhuru Kenyatta

On the verge of retirement, is the Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces and in charge of the elaborate security apparatus that will be critical in ensuring the election. The President constitutionally is the symbol of unity and every move he makes during the election counts for the stability of the country.

President Uhuru Kenyatta. [PSCU]
  1. Deputy President William Ruto

He is making his first stab at the presidency. In 2012 he was with Uhuru Kenyatta under the URP/TNA alliance that led to their victory in the 2013 election. He has a fanatical following, especially in Mount Kenya and Rift Valley.

His supporters listen to him and he will have to manage their expectations during and after the polls on Tuesday to avert any eventuality.   

  1. Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga

He is taking his fifth stab at the presidency. He has a fanatic following that believes that this is his moment of greatness after losing in 1997, 2007, 2013, and 2017 presidential elections.

In this election, he enjoys the support of the incumbent President Kenyatta. 

In victory or loss, Raila has the responsibility to contain his support base to accept the decision of the 22 million voters. 

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga. [File, Standard]
  1. Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i

The CS will have to ensure security before and after the polls.

Dr Matiang'i just like the President has thrown his weight behind Raila and will be expected to be neutral in dealing with security apparatus. It is in his docket that the police and all the other security agents are domiciled.

  1. IEBC Chair Wafula Chebukati

He will be overseeing the second General Election after 2017.

As the umpire in the succession politics where Uhuru is exiting, all eyes are on him as he prepares to hold one of the hotly contested elections in Kenya with 22 million voters and 16,500 candidates vying for various elective seats across over 46,000 polling stations.

Chief Justice Martha Koome. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]
  1. Chief Justice Martha Koome 

As head of Judiciary, she will be key in the elections given that they will be mediating the many disputes arising during and after the polls.

Even before the elections, the Judiciary has been having made several judgements that have had far-reaching consequences in this election, but it is in the coming days after the elections that Koome's call of duty will intensify.

Her predecessor, David Maraga led the Apex Supreme Court in nullifying Uhuru's win in the 2017 presidential election.

  1. Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai 

Kenyan election comes with anxiety, emotional and physical tension and the security agents play a great role in ensuring there is calm across the country. In this election, Mutyambai will be required to mobilise over 100,000 security officers to oversee the election in over 46,000 polling stations, 290 constituency polling centres, 47county tallying centres and the Presidential tallying centres for a number of days.

Depending on how the election goes, police will be expected to contain any eventuality.

Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai. [Esther Jeruto, Standard]
  1. National Intelligence Service (NIS) Director General Philip Kameru

He is charged with gathering and providing intelligence for the government. Maj Gen Kameru is expected to advise the government on the security situation across the country before and after the elections.

His intelligence will inform how the government responds to avert chaos.

  1. Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho

Like his boss Dr Matiang'i and IG Mutyambai, Dr Kibicho will be coordinating the security agents to ensure seamless operations.

  1. CAK Director General Ezra Chiloba

As a former IEBC Chief Executive Officer, he understands his responsibility of ensuring seamless transmission of election results.