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In Kenya, Survey Results Highlight the Need for Political Party Coalitions


In Kenya, a recent survey suggests that despite support for President Mwai Kibaki’s government, many feel the country is headed in the wrong direction. The survey found that no single political party should expect overwhelming support in the next general election. Observers believe the findings will force political strategists to reconsider their tactics and contemplate forming coalitions. William Ruto is the secretary general of the Kenya African National Union (KANU) party and a supporter of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM); he spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about the survey.

“I think [it] was conducted by a very reputable organization that is the International Republican Institute. And I think the poll is fairly representative of the views of the majority of Kenyans. The poll says that unless there is a unity of purpose and the combination of the various presidential candidates, no single presidential candidate would be able to win the poll come next year. And it goes ahead to say unless political parties form a coalition, then no single party would win the elections next year. And I think that is fairly correct.”

He said, “There is nothing really strange about what is happening in our country. I think this is normal democratic practice, where you have a multi-party system of government; many people believe in multi-partism and I think about four or five serious political parties. And each political party has strengths, regional strengths and various other issues that cause the political parties to have various strengths in the country. And I think also that Kenyans want participatory leadership; they want leaders to work together. They cannot any more trust a single person to drive the national agenda. We have done that in the past with disastrous results. And I think many more Kenyans want to be in the loop. They want to participate in decision-making, moving the country forward; resources allocation and I think it is a positive development.”

Ruto said to achieve success in the next general elections, opposition parties should cooperate with one another. “I have always believed myself that our party (KANU) should strengthen itself to do everything possible to make sure that as a political party we are doing everything possible to make sure that we claim our stake in the national political arena, but ultimately, explore ways and means of working with other political parties so that we can be able to serve the people of Kenya appropriately. I am prepared as a member of KANU that if it will mean us working with other political parties that we can drive the agenda we have for this country in a much more effective and better way, that’s a price we should comfortably pay. Because ultimately, as I say, the end justifies the means.”

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