Kenya: The Race Is Truly on; after over a Dozen Presidential Aspirants Expressed Interest in the December Elections, the Wheat Has Now Been Separated from the Chaff and Only Three Remain Standing. Wanjohi Kabukuru Gives Some Insight into the Issues at Stake and What the Top Three Contenders Have to Offer
Kabukuru, Wanjohi, New African
Next month's general and presidential elections in Kenya are expected to be tough and difficult, and thus difficult to predict the outcome. The battle ahead is fast shaping up and has revealed the top contenders--the incumbent Mwai Kibaki, Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka.
These elections have so much premium for Kenyans and if recent events are anything to go by, the run-up to the polls has already seen history being made: In an unprecedented political move, the former president, Daniel arap Moi, the godfather of the largest opposition party, KANU, has thrown his weight behind President Mwai Kibaki. Moi's gesture may have influenced KANU's flagbearer and the leader of the official opposition, Uhuru Kenyatta, to also declare his support for Kibaki. Things are really happening in Kenya!
"I can't just vie for the sake of vying," explained Uhuru Kenyatta. "I can only do so when I am sure of winning. We want to regroup in preparation for the future. Our goal and objective is that we must form part of the next government and achieve political power."
Uhuru's move sent shockwaves across the country and left the mainstream opposition reeling with surprise and anger. "We voted for Uhuru Kenyatta (son of Kenya's first president Jomo Kenyatta) in 2002, and stood by him," said KANU's vice chairman, Chris Okemo. "Some of us almost lost our teeth because of the stand we took. And now Kenyatta has left us and the more than 1.8 million voters in the cold."
Uhuru's announcement was not the only shock news. Just four days later, President Kibaki himself announced that he would be seeking re-election on another ticket--effectively ditching the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), the party that brought him to power in 2002.
He will now be standing on the platform of the newly-formed Party of National Unity (PNU), a peculiar amalgamation of KANU, Ford-Kenya, Ford-People, NARC-Kenya and the Democratic Party of Kenya (DPK), among others.
Kibaki's announcement ended months of speculation regarding which party's ticket he would contest under after NARC fragmented due to internal power wrangling.
At stake in the December elections are 14 million votes spread across Kenya's 210 constituencies. The three main parties in the contest are now the PNU led by President Mwai Kibaki, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) led by Raila Odinga, and (another) Orange Democratic Movement-Kenya (ODM-K) led by Kalonzo Musyoka. Here is where they stand:
Despite his extraordinary credentials, President Kibaki is at the moment not enjoying flattering media coverage. At 76, he is the oldest in the race but also with the most political experience. Having been in politics and various portfolios since Kenya gained independence in 1963, Kibaki can look back to his four decades' experience to pull this election off.
A brilliant economist with an illustrious career, Kibaki is leaving nothing to chance. Having enriched the national economy with his economic genius since coming to power five years ago (a fact that even his harshest critics admit), he will be relying on his record in office to woo voters. Not surprisingly, therefore, his re-election motto is "Kibaki Tena, Kazi Iendelee" (Kibaki again, let the work continue).
The key men behind Kibaki's re-election campaign are former President Moi; Simeon Nyachae, roads and public works minister; Njenga Karume, defence minister; Uhuru Kenyatta, the official opposition leader; Kipruto Kirwa, agriculture minister; and Musikari Kombo, local government minister. …