President Barack Obama’s Kenyan half-brother has launched his own political career by announcing his intention to run for the Kisumu county gubernatorial seat in the upcoming March 4 elections.

ObamaMalik Obama, 54, who shares a father with the US president, said in an interview late Wednesday that the achievements of his more famous brother have “inspired and challenged” him to get into active politics in his homeland.

“When I look at the success that my brother has had in America, I feel I would have let down my people if I do not follow in his footsteps and end their suffering through dedicated, honest and focused leadership,” Obama said at his ancestral home of Kogelo in western Kenya.

The trained economist said he is the right candidate to deal with the “endless cycle of poverty and unemployment that bedevils my people.”

“I can confidently say that of all the people who are vying for the position, I am the best placed candidate … by virtue of my second name alone, I have the connections to bring development to Siaya,” he said, referring to his home county some 100 km (60 miles) from the lakeside city of Kisumu.

Although he says he is charting his own path, Malik Obama is using his now famous second name to try and get an edge over his competitors, who include the older brother of Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

In a country polarised by dominant political parties such as the Orange Democratic party led by Mr Odinga and The National Alliance party of presidential frontrunner Uhuru Kenyatta, Obama is running as an independent.

He said his links to Washington DC will help him clinch the seat.