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FILE PHOTO: Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga is escorted after addressing striking doctors at the Uhuru Park as they wait for the release of jailed officials of the national doctors' union following their case to demand fulfilment of a 2013 agreement between their union and the government that would raise their pay and improve working conditions, in Nairobi, Kenya February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

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By Katharine Houreld

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's opposition alliance is expected to announce that veteran politician Raila Odinga will be its presidential candidate on Thursday, party sources said, as busloads of cheering, whistling supporters in orange T-shirts began converging on the capital.

"The announcement is on," said a senior official from Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement, referring to Odinga and his vice-presidential pick, Kalonzo Musyoka. "It is a Raila-Kalonzo ticket."

A senator from another party confirmed the ticket.

Kenyan voters will go to the polls in August to choose a new president, lawmakers and local officials. Devolution means that many of the local races to control lucrative county budgets are expected to be closely fought.

Kenyans hope the vote will be largely peaceful, as it was in 2013. But the country is still haunted by the two months of clashes that followed the disputed 2007 presidential poll, when political protests rapidly spilled into ethnic violence. More than 1,200 people were killed.

There has been some low-level violence and several party primaries held this month had to be suspended or re-run amid complaints over mismanagement and rigging.

Odinga, 72, contested the both of the last two elections and comes from one of its most powerful political families.

He was prime minister of Kenya from 2008-2012 as part of a power sharing government set up to end the violence after former president Mwai Kibaki's disputed win in December 2007.

A veteran opposition leader who identifies as a left-winger, he named his first son Fidel, after the Cuban leader, and has vowed to root out corruption, reform the public sector and strengthen local government. A hospital that his father helped build in Western Kenya, the family's powerbase, is nicknamed Russia after its main financial backers.

Odinga has refused to rule out street protests if the elections are "rigged".

(editing by Richard Lough)

Reuters

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