Magazine article New African

Kenya: Post-Referendum Blues; Although the Government Lost the Referendum on the New Constitution Back in November, Political Normality Is Yet to Return. Wanjohi Kabukuru Reports from Nairobi

Magazine article New African

Kenya: Post-Referendum Blues; Although the Government Lost the Referendum on the New Constitution Back in November, Political Normality Is Yet to Return. Wanjohi Kabukuru Reports from Nairobi

Article excerpt

In the run-up to the constitutional referendum in November, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), a disgruntled partner in the ruling National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), jumped ship and joined the opposition Kenya African National Union (KANU) to form the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) whose symbol, the "orange fruit", signified "No" to the new constitution.

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When the final tally was announced, "No" had carried the day by a margin of one million votes. This loss marked a significant milestone in recent Kenyan history.

Soon after President Mwai Kibaki conceded defeat on national television, the ODM leading light and former minister for roads, Raila Odinga, urged the president to dissolve parliament and call a snap election. This was flatly rejected by both the president and the Church, who insisted that the government had to go the full course as laid down by the constitution.

A day after accepting the referendum results, Kibaki dismissed his entire cabinet and ran the country for a fortnight with only the vice-president, attorney general and permanent secretaries.

When he named the new cabinet two weeks later, all ministers who were allied to the "No" campaign, namely Kalonzo Musyoka (environment and natural resources), Raila Odinga (roads and public works), Prof Anyang Nyong'o (planning), Linah Kilimo (immigration), Najib Balala (national heritage), Ochillo Ayacko (sports), and William Ole Ntimama (state), and several like-minded deputy ministers, were all left out. Rather, sympathetic members of both KANU and FORD-People were given cabinet posts.

Since then, Kibaki has moved fast to assure the public that the progress so far made on the constitution would not go to waste, but that only contentious issues in the proposed constitution would be dealt with.

Now, all of a sudden, the country's oldest party, KANU, is enmeshed in a fight for survival. A splinter group calling itself New KANU Alliance has been registered. The new party is ostensibly exploiting a loophole which KANU overlooked when it registered its documents ahead of independence in 1963.

The loophole is solely based on trademarks. The new party is seeking to take control of KANU's age-old cockerel symbol, one-finger salute and even its flag. It has already filed its intentions with the registrar of trademarks.

Due to the timing of the registration, KANU has shifted all blame to Kibaki's government, saying the move to register the new party is intended to "create acrimony". …

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