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Kenya elections: A Luo and Kikuyu affair

By Vision Reporter

Added 6th December 2007 03:00 AM

TWENTY-three days to the general elections, tension is building up everywhere in Kenya. If it is not politically related murders, it is ethnic violence consuming well known volatile areas like Kuresoi, Molo and Mt. Elgon areas in the Rift Valley and Western provinces.

TWENTY-three days to the general elections, tension is building up everywhere in Kenya. If it is not politically related murders, it is ethnic violence consuming well known volatile areas like Kuresoi, Molo and Mt. Elgon areas in the Rift Valley and Western provinces.

An East African perspective

Jerry Okungu


TWENTY-three days to the general elections, tension is building up everywhere in Kenya. If it is not politically related murders, it is ethnic violence consuming well known volatile areas like Kuresoi, Molo and Mt. Elgon areas in the Rift Valley and Western provinces.

It is indeed trying times for Kenyan leaders both in power and in the opposition. For the regime in power, ordinary people are wondering why a well- trained police force with an investigative arm can stand by and allow crime to escalate to the levels we see today.

Kenyans are asking basic questions about police ineptitude if not apathy that has resulted in the deaths of at least six political aspirants in the last few weeks with scores beaten senseless.

However, what frightens Kenyans most is the real possibility that the elections may be rigged, come December 27. Their fears may not be misplaced considering the amount of rumour that has been doing the rounds in Nairobi and upcountry.

First, it was alleged that the reason President Mwai Kibaki replaced the majority of Electoral Commissioners was because he needed friendly greenhorns that would manipulate the election results in his favour. The more reason the campaign to retain the ECK chairman Samuel Kivuitu reached fever pitch and sucked in the European Union and American envoys in Nairobi. Opposition parties had cried wolf.

Going by the events of last week, it would appear like what started as rumour, that highly placed government officials in collusion with some ECK officials were already out in Europe to print parallel ballot papers in readiness for the December elections might after all be true when opposition parties confronted the ECK chairman with a formal protest and demanded investigations.

Among the issues presented to the chairman was the fear of direct involvement by the provincial administration in the campaign for the re-election of President Kibaki and his PNU when the constitution bars all civil servants from partisan politics.

In recent weeks, tension has gone a notch higher when one considers highly inflammatory media campaign messages being churned out for public consumption. Apart from direct media spots targeting presidential candidates, there has been a plethora of hate speeches and propaganda leaflets being circulated in Rift Valley and Nairobi that have had their share of polluting the political atmosphere.

If it has not been Raila Odinga signing a memorandum of understanding with Muslims for whatever reason, it has been President Kibaki signing a similar document with the dreaded murderous Mungiki sect!

As the Election Day draws near, it would appear like it will be a contest between Luos and Kikuyus in the presidential elections. That is why strategists on both sides have pointed their political guns on either Odinga or Kibaki. There seems to be no mention of other presidential candidates like Kalonzo Musyoka, Pastor Muiru, Kenneth Matiba or Nazlin Umar, making the presidential elections appear to be a two-horse race as Odinga predicted earlier in the year.

Indeed this year’s elections are a do-or die for both ODM and PNU parties. The stakes are truly high on both sides. President Kibaki is fighting the battle of his life. He has to prove that he can win the presidency on his own. This is due to the fact that many political analysts believe that he did not win the 2002 elections on his own, that his current opponents were the architects of that victory.

To strengthen their case, they are quick to remind us that he had tried twice in 1992 and 1997 and failed. Kibaki is doing this not for the love of Kenya but rather for himself, his family, friends and community that would be crestfallen if he lost the election. He is fighting the battle of his life because he does not want to be the first incumbent in East Africa to lose an election after just one term.

Raila Odinga, on the other hand, is determined to prove many things with this election. He would like to prove that indeed he put Kibaki in power in 2002, that any Kenyan from any tribe can be elected president, including a Luo like him. More importantly, he would like to tell Kenyans that money and personal fortunes should not be the only means to political power.

He wants to prove twice that despite state resources enjoyed by the incumbency, the government can always be defeated if there are grounds for it. But perhaps the most motivating factor that drives his adrenalin is the prospect of beating three powerful political dynasties that have combined forces against him.

In this titanic battle, Odinga is facing three families of Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki that have ruled Kenya since 1963. In 2002, Odinga thwarted Moi’s attempt to hand over power to the very family that he took over from in 1978. Had Moi succeeded, Kenya’s political leadership would have remained the preserve of just two families for 43 years.

Odinga used Kibaki to break the cycle. This year, the very man he put in power against the massive forces of the Moi regime and the Kenyatta family fortune has turned against him and roped in his 2002 adversaries to ensure he does not become Kenya’s fourth president. This is the reason Odinga’s political adrenalin is running high.

It will be sweet victory for the man whose family is synonymous with freedom struggle to beat these three families at their game.

My prediction is that this may be Odinga’s last epic battle whether he wins or loses. After this election, he will be happy to be anything but a politician.

jerrykokungu@yahoo.com

Kenya elections: A Luo and Kikuyu affair

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