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Kenya's Opposition Chooses Presidential Candidate

  • Malcolm Webb

The ODM-Kenya opposition party Friday chose Kalonzo Musyoka as their presidential candidate to run in the forthcoming general election in Kenya. His former ally, Raila Odinga, is expected to be running against him, after their party split earlier this month. Malcolm Webb reports from Nairobi.

ODM-Kenya elected Kalonzo Musyoka as their candidate to run in the election, at a party meeting in Nairobi this afternoon. Musyoka split from the ODM party and set up ODM Kenya three weeks ago, following what many believe was a bitter struggle over party control between Musyoka and presidential hopeful Raila Odinga.

The ODM party are meeting in Nairobi tomorrow to select their candidate. Odinga is widely expected to be chosen to run in the election at the end of this year.

Nairobi-based Political writer Ojwang Agina says Musyoka does not pose a serious threat to the other presidential candidates, but by running he will disadvantage incumbent President Mwai Kibaki, who is expected to try and gain a second term in office. Agina says Musyoka may take crucial votes from Kibaki, to Odinga's advantage.

"He will be trying to cut into the same Central Province, around mount Kenya region, the vote that Kibaki is also banking heavily on, and to that extent he may reduce Kibaki's total vote," said Agina. "In so far as Raila Odinga is concerned, if there are any parts of the ODM Kenya which will vote for Kilonzo then that might diminish Raila's votes but so far there's no indication that will happen."

However many people see the split between ODM and ODM-Kenya as the collapse of a once-powerful movement, and that by running separately they have lost their chance of victory.

Lawyer and political analyst Barrack Muluka thinks that Musyoka could prove to be stronger than expected in the coming weeks. He says Odinga will be disadvantaged running against his former ally, as a result of Musyoka taking away the support of the voters from his home community.

"I think it clearly locks the Kamba vote from Kibaki, then his apparent most formidable competitor who is Raila Odinga can also not get them. It may not be so good for Raila because he had hoped that he would bag those votes," said Muluka.

Earlier this week former president Daniel Arap Moi said he would back Kibaki's re-election, and that Kibaki deserved a second term. Moi still wields significant political influence in Kenya, but his reputation has been tarnished by allegations of corruption scandals. In the eyes of many Kenyans his endorsement may not be to Kibaki's credit .

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