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Kenya’s Opposition Elects Candidates for December Elections


In Kenya, it seems all is set for a three-horse race in this year’s presidential election as opposition parties elected their presidential aspirants over the weekend to challenge incumbent President Mwai Kibaki. Former foreign minister Kalonzo Musyoka got the nod to lead opposition Orange Democratic Movement Kenya (ODM-Kenya), while Raila Odinga was elected candidate for the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

Meanwhile, a recent poll shows incumbent President Kibaki leading the pack with 45 percent, followed by Raila Odinga with 25 percent, while Kalonzo Musyoka is at a distant third. Joseph Magud is a Kenyan political analyst. From the capital Nairobi, he shares with reporter Peter Clottey his views about the political landscape ahead of this year’s elections.

“First I beg leave to observe that the very fact that the parties primaries went on smoothly is very much in keeping with the tenets and principles of democracy. And it’s indicative of the fact that as a country, Kenyans, we are maturing politically as we move towards the general elections. With the benefit of the hindsight, of course you would reckon that for the last 40 years or so, we have not had party primaries done transparently and fairly. And it would appear that the contestants that were beaten acquiesced to the defeat. This I think is a precursor of good things for the country politically, and I think it’s a plus for democracy because everything was in keeping in reign in confidence with the principles of democracy,” Magud noted.

He said there would be a lot of political horse-trading among other things ahead of the general elections. “I think after the primaries, particularly, within the ODM-Kenya and ODM Raila Odinga, there is likelihood that each of the candidates nominated now the flag bearer would begin hitting the road. We are likely to see Kalonzo going to essentially build bridges particularly within the costal part of Kenya … so there is likelihood for further coalition building. On the side of Raila, I think he is going to be reaching out to more personalities to join to hitch his bandwagon within the ODM. And so on the part of Kibaki, to the degree as a student of politics, I think he may have to hobble or put together a coalition of course which is to subsume the democratic Party of Kenya, NARC- Kenya so as to have a grand coalition … so that he can run on the ticket of a coalition,” he pointed out.

Magud reiterated that there would likely be intense political activities going into the December elections.

“There is all likelihood to be a rush of political activities and up to coalition making, re-alignment particularly as the parliament gets dissolved,” Magud said.

He said, although he envisages an opposition alliance, it might not be politically expedient for one of the presidential candidates.

“Let me say this, from the province of political readership and studentship, I am pretty much dissident to say that there is all likelihood that Kalonzo Musyoka may join the Raila bandwagon, one for the very fact that I think he is very much interested in pursuing his vision to the wire, contesting for the presidency. If you listen to his speech, the first thing he mentioned was that he wants his name to appear on the presidential ballot, and it would appear that he is very much serious. Two, you would reckon the fact that already the slot in the Raila ODM seem already to be filled. Already there is a clear lineup; already Raila has declared that Musailia Mudavadi who was his runners up is going to be his running mate. It means that even if Musyoka comes back he must not accept to take much lower position than that. It means basically, I think it would appear that the die is cast, this is going to be a three-horse race,” he said.

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