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Entertainment: The young Kenyans watch the electoral "dirty game"

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Meeting électoral à Mwea, dans l'ouest du Kenya, le 27 juillet 2022 © Tony Karumba electoral meeting in Mwea, in the west of Kenya, on July 27, 2022

when the jingle of the campaign, the crowd gets up. Hellen Atieno follows the movement, crashes, in unison with the meeting audience in Kisumu, in western Kenya. However, on August 9, the young woman will not vote.

"I just came to the meeting because there is money," assures this 23 -year -old Kenyan, bait like so many others by frequent gifts distributed to flirt with voters.

unemployed, the old fishmonger says herself so tired by the political class that she thinks of staying at home rather than going to vote to elect the new president, parliament and local representatives.

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Les participants à un meeting politique font la queue pour recevoir de l'argent, à Kisumu le 16 juillet 2022 © Brian NAGORO Participants in a political meeting line up to receive money, in Kisumu on July 16, 2022

His apathy is far from being an exception among young people, essential component of this African country ballast.

Three in four Kenyans are under 34 years old, according to official figures, and many among them turn away from a political game which they consider vitiated by corruption.

They are 5% less compared to 2017 to have registered on the electoral lists this year, unlike the over 35s, the number of which increased, indicated in June the Kenya Electoral Commission (IEBC).

Des villageois font la queue pour © Brian Ongoro of the villagers are queuing to "participate" in an electoral meeting, in Kisumu on July 16, 2022

on August 9, 22.1 million voters are called to the ballot boxes, including just under 40% of young people, according to the IEBC.

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-"Dirty game" -

To seduce them, candidates distribute T -shirts, caps, umbrellas or even basic corn flour in the country -at anyone attended their meetings.

The small cuts also flow to waves, and the Minister of the Interior Fred Matiangi even mentioned on Wednesday a "shortage" of 100 and 200 shillings tickets in the banks.

These bribes, however liable to a fine of up to 2 million Kenyan shillings (around 17,000 euros) and six years' imprisonment, are nothing new. But rampant inflation, exacerbated by the impact of war in Ukraine, and unemployment has sharpened appetites.

19 -year -old butcher, Brian Denzel has been chaining meetings in recent weeks, more eager for tickets than political debates, according to him of "dirty game".

"Who will reject the easy money they distribute?", He sighs, standing in the tail to touch the 200 Kenyan shillings (about 17 euro cents) given by a local politician.

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The positioning of young voters is one of the unknowns of the ballot.

The young generation, reputed to be less inclined to vote on the basis of tribal belonging, could appease politico-ethnic tensions that often shake Kenya in the electoral period, want to believe analysts.

Although less focused on community issues, young people seem, however, devoid of "ideological stability" and political convictions, according to political analyst Francis Owuor.

"Everyone (is) to blame for that, both the population and the leaders, but the leaders are in responsibility, so it is largely their fault," he said.

- Disillusionment -

Two candidates are favorites in the presidency race: the current vice -president William Ruto, 55, and Raila Odonga, 77, veteran of the opposition supported since 2018 by the outgoing Head of State and his party. If both accept the results at the end of the August 9 election, it would be a first since 2002.

Post-electoral disputes have indeed been recurrent since the establishment of multipartyism at the end of 1991 and feed a certain disillusionment, especially in young people.

This disinterest in the policy amplified by repeated electoral disputes worries the electoral commission.

"We did a lot of awareness during the registration period on the electoral lists, (...), but the apathy of the voters is still too high," AFP Souda told AFP, in charge of the voting education at the IEBC.

But neither the publications on Tiktok, nor the comics in "sheng" - the local slang mixing English and Swahili - have aroused hope with young people whose horizon is often limited to inflation, corruption and unemployed. Five million of them are unemployed, according to official figures published in 2020.

The elections, "that does not interest me", loose Irene Awino Owino, 27, owner of a hair salon and probable abstentionist, "Because the government puts its interests before ours".


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