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Kenya’s Political Landscape Shapes Up for December’s Elections

In Kenya, some political analysts say all seems to be set for a two-horse race in this year’s presidential election between incumbent President Mwai Kibaki and opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) candidate Raila Odinga, who was once Kibaki’s political ally. The conditions for a lively race developed when a recent poll showed Odinga for the first time this year in the lead with 47 percent, leaving incumbent Kibaki behind in second place with a little more than 30 percent, and Kalonzo Musyoka following at a distant third. Observers say, however, that the massive turnout of partisans for Kibaki’s rally Sunday is an indication that the incumbent is the man to beat in December’s general vote.

From the capital, Nairobi, Kenyan political analyst Joseph Magud shares his views about Kenya’s political landscape with reporter Peter Clottey.

“This is going to be a two-horse race between Raila Odinga and President Kibaki as now opinion polls are clearly indicating from the various strong polls that have been conducted so far, in the media stations, research organizations, they are basically pitting Raila against President Kibaki. Of course with Honorable Kalonzo Muyoka trailing at the far end,” Magud noted.

He reiterated that the massive crowed attendance by supporters of the President Kibaki is sending a strong signal to the opposition about the strength of the incumbent support base.

“I think this was a well choreographed event or occasion. I think you have to be aware of the fact that some of the supporters were ferried from the main urban and the central districts or homeland of President Kibaki where he enjoys huge support. But I think the message or the political statement they are trying to put across to their political opponents is the very fact that he also enjoys huge support. I think they want to make the statement that ‘here we come, this is a serious team, and that you can see the crowd behind us’,” he pointed out.

Magud said the government used the power of incumbency to outmuscle Raila Odinga and prevent his ODM from holding their rally a day before the incumbent president was supposed to hold his rally.

“Remember they did cancel the opposition’. The Raila team was supposed to have their rally as well on Saturday, but the government cancelled it. I think the idea was to essentially make sure they hog much acreage of the media coverage today. And so they didn’t want to really share it. To me I think they had a successful rally. They had a massive crowd, and I think they sent a statement to the people,” Magud said.

He said reports of a political ally of Odinga who is in government would not significantly improve the chances for the opposition leader to defeat the incumbent this year.

“Let me say this from the province of a political readership and studentship that Charity Ngilu is not a premium catch for Raila. I think the mere fact that she would be joining the ODM is essentially for political ornamentation. She may just add some color to Raila’s color, and not really add much of political value as to mean that she would come along with a good number of voters,” he said.