- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
The Siaya county governor’s election is going to get a bit more international attention than usual this year with Barack Obama’s half-brother Malik running against the Kenyan Prime Minister’s brother:
Obama, 54, will compete as an independent candidate during the March 4 national elections, he told a public gathering yesterday in Kogelo, about 310 kilometers (193 miles) west of the capital, Nairobi. Obama, who shares the same father as the U.S. president, said he will use his relationship with his half- brother to address issues such as poverty and unemployment.
“Siaya county is facing a lot of problems from poor infrastructure to poverty due to bad leadership,” he said. “I will change this if elected.”
Kenya’s elections in March will be the first since 2007, when a dispute over the outcome triggered ethnic fighting in which more than 1,100 people died and at least 350,000 more were forced to flee their homes. Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s brother, Oburu Oginga, has sought the nomination of his party, the Orange Democratic Movement, for the governorship of Siaya.
The U.S. president describes several meetings with his half-brother in both the United States and Kenya in his memoir, Dreams From My Father. Malik, who owns an electronics store as well as running a charitable foundation, has written his own book meant to combat the negative portrayals of Barack Sr. as an alchoholic and womanizer by several of Barack II’s biographers. According to Andrew Rice, the book also apparently strongly hints that the elder Barack was assassinated by the government, rather than the much less exciting official story: a drunk driving accident.
Malik told the U.S. press in 2004 that unlike his Brother, he preferred the quiet life in Siaya. Evidently, he decided he needed some more excitement.