Kenyan president halves food costs as elections near

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced Thursday the halving of the cost of food due to inflation and ahead of the imminent general elections in August that will decide his successor in the African country.

The cost of maize flour, used to make Kenya’s staple food, has been halved. A 2 kg packet of maize meal will now sell for €0.82 ($0.84), instead of €1.73 ($1.77), as reported by the British broadcaster BBC.

The Kenyan government has said it will arrest, prosecute and charge anyone caught selling a 2kg packet of maize meal at more than €0.82.

In a televised speech on Thursday, President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered that the cost of the staple food be halved.

The government is considering how it will compensate retailers who had bought expensive stock before the price reduction was announced, spokesman Cyrus Oguna has assured the BBC.

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Some store owners have not embraced the price changes for fear of losing revenue.

On the other hand, Kenyatta has promoted his former deputy as the new Army commander, less than three weeks before the end of his second and final term.

Major General Peter Mbogo Njiru has been promoted to lieutenant general and replaces his predecessor, who is scheduled to retire.

Only one woman, Colonel Ziporrah Kalondu Kioko, has been among the 20 military appointments and changes announced by the president, she will head the strategic communication wing of the Department of Defense.

In recent weeks, President Kenyatta — who is constitutionally barred from running for the presidency again — has made hundreds of appointments to the appellate court, university boards, government agencies and the Army.

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Presidential candidates, including the two clear favorites, William Ruto (United Democratic Alliance) and Raila Odinga (Azimio la Umoja), called on their supporters to participate in peace during the election campaign ahead of the August 9 polls, as opposed to what happened in the 2017 elections, which resulted in half a hundred deaths and more than a hundred injuries.

Ruto will face his great rival Odinga, once an anti-establishment figure, who surprised analysts and Kenyans themselves by entering into an alliance with President Kenyatta in 2018.

Odinga chose Martha Karua as his electoral running mate ahead of the presidential elections, while Ruto has opted for Rigathi Gachagua, who was Kenyatta’s advisor between 2001 and 2006, as his vice-presidential candidate.

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