News / Africa

Kenyan Presidential Candidates Make Final Push

Kenyan Presidential Candidates Make Final Pushi
X
February 26, 2013 3:07 PM
With just under a week to go before Kenya’s presidential election, candidates are making their final efforts to court voters. The race has come down to two main competitors: Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president who represents the Jubilee coalition, and Raila Odinga, the current prime minister and head of the CORD alliance. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow reports on the state of the race to decide Kenya’s political future.
TEXT SIZE - +
Gabe Joselow
— With just under a week to go before Kenya’s presidential election, candidates are making their final efforts to court voters. The race has come down to two main competitors: Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president who represents the Jubilee coalition, and Raila Odinga, the current prime minister and head of the CORD alliance.
 
The two candidates have drawn huge crowds as they cross the country seeking votes.
 
Some of their most vocal supporters gather on a street corner in Nairobi in a so-called People’s Parliament. Kenyans meet daily to argue politics and to try to convince each other to change their views.
 
CORD supporter Omukoko Shitandi said, "Every Kenyan can agree with me that Raila Odinga, politically, he was the brainchild of the struggle for multiparty in Kenya. And socially he has been the champion of the struggle for the rights of both the poor and the rich in Kenya.”
 
Jubilee supporters, like Patrick Matho, are unconvinced.

“There’s a lot of unemployment in Kenya but we believe that in Jubilee, the way we’ve read the manifesto and the way they have put some funds aside for the youth and women, I think it’s the right party,” said Matho.

Kenya Elections:
  • Voters select president, bicameral legislature, governors and county assembly
  • 8 presidential candidates
  • To win presidency, candidate must get 50% of votes, plus one, and at least 25% of votes in half of Kenya’s 47 counties
  • If no clear winner, a second round of voting is scheduled for April 11
  • 14.3 million registered voters
Uniting his base
 
Jubilee supporters are defensive, though, about the International Criminal Court charges against Kenyatta for his alleged role in the violence that followed the last election in 2007. Western diplomats have suggested a Kenyatta presidency could weaken ties between the international community and Kenya.
 
But professor Joshua Kivuva of the University of Nairobi said the charges have actually helped to unite Mr. Kenyatta’s base.

“Without the ICC, the Jubilee would not exist. Uhuru Kenyatta would not even be a factor in this. He was a nobody without the ICC,” said Kivuva.
 
Supporters from both parties acknowledge that tribalism dominates Kenyan politics.
 
Odinga, who is part of the Luo tribe, is relying on votes from his supporters in the western part of the country.
 
Tribal politics

Kenyatta depends on the Kikuyu tribal vote in central Kenya.
 
Professor Kivuva said the role of tribe, however, is largely misunderstood.
 
“Actually Kenya has never had tribal politics, that is the biggest misnomer that has been perpetrated all the time. Kenyans vote very much on ideological basis, it’s on that [where] ideology and tribe converge,” he said.
 
Other candidates have tried to change the political conversation this year.
 
Peter Kenneth ran on a campaign that rejected tribalism and tried to court Kenyans from across ethnic lines. While he has been popular on the campaign trail, he has ranked near the bottom in recent polls.
 
All parties say they want to avoid a repeat of the violence that killed more than 1,100 people following the last disputed election.
 
The vote on Monday is likely to be incredibly close, though, with the two leading politicians separated by only a couple of percentage points in recent polls. Candidates have already started trading accusations of vote rigging, raising tensions and the possibility that the results again could be disputed.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Professor David O. Monda from: Los Angeles
February 27, 2013 2:51 PM
Dear Editor:
Thank you for your analysis of Kenyan presidential candidates. The problem of tribe in Kenya goes back to the colonial era and was exacerbated by the fall out between Jaramogi Odinga and Jomo Kenyatta. Kenyatta used the state resources to uplift his core ethnic constituency and destroyed the pre independence relationship he had with Odinga by detaining him and silencing opponents. His son Uhuru Kenyatta has the unfortunate burden of having to answer for the sins of his father.

The election of 2013 is in an ironic way a round two show down between the son of Jaramogi Odinga (under CORD Alliance) and the son of Jomo Kenyatta (under Jubilee Alliance). Each is lobbying his core ethnic constituents in Nyanza and Central provinces. This leaves the other 40 tribes with no recourse but to get behind one of these two camps.
The building of legal / political institutions and the growth of the economy is the key to Kenya’s future success. Coupled with this is the respect for these institutions by the political elite and the development of legitimacy in these institutions in the eyes of the public.

On March 4th 2013, the test of the political maturity of the nation of Kenya will be severely tested. Success in the electoral experiment will be an example to regional leadership in Uganda and Tanzania where de facto one party systems run the political show.

Professor David O. Monda
Department of Social Sciences
Ashford University.
Email: david.monda@faculty.ashford.edu

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid