A politician named Obama who is running for governor in Kenya can boast of one big claim to fame on the campaign trail: blood relations with the president of the United States.
Malik Obama — a half-brother of Barack Obama — is running for a governor’s position in the country’s nationwide elections on Monday, though he said he’s not sure what impact his relationship to the American president has on his campaign.
“I’m going into it as Malik Obama,” he said in a phone interview with The Associated Press from western Kenya. “I can’t run away from my name and association with my brother, but I have the feeling that people somewhat want to see who the brother of Obama is.”
The president’s relative even invokes the message that Barack Obama leaned on during his groundbreaking 2008 political campaign: Change. Malik Obama says his platform is poverty eradication, infrastructure development and industrialization.
“I hope that you all out there will support me and vote for me for this important position so that we can bring change to the county of Siaya,” Obama said at a recent campaign stop.
Kenyans on Monday will cast ballots for a wide range of regional offices, but the most crucial vote is for president. Monday is Kenya’s first nationwide election since the 2007 vote devolved into massive tribal violence that killed more than 1,000 people and displaced 600,000 from their homes.
The 54-year-old Malik Obama hopes to become the first governor of Kenya’s western county of Siaya. He is running as an independent candidate. Kenya’s new 2010 constitution created 47 new political divisions known as counties, to be headed by governors.
Obama is competing against candidates who are from well-funded parties, and the political newcomer may be in need of campaign cash. He asked an AP Television News freelance cameraman to contribute to his campaign. No contribution was given. Obama said he was asking for the individual to contribute, not for AP to contribute.
This is Malik Obama’s first run for office.
Barack Obama’s father was from Kenya and the U.S. president has several relatives in the country. Malik and Barack Obama have the same father but different mothers.