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Kenyan Opposition Leader to Support Kibaki's Re-election

In a little over three months, Kenyans will go to the polls to elect their next president. In a major development, the leader of the country’s founding party, opposition politician Uhuru Kenyatta of KANU, has announced he will support the re-election of President Mwai Kibaki. The move is widely been criticized by some, including leading KANU members who describe Kenyatta’s decision as an attempt to turn Kenya into a single party state.

The Law Society of Kenya has also reportedly said it would seek a constitutional amendment to stop Kenyatta from supporting President Kibaki’s re-election bid. For his part, Kenyatta reportedly said he had done what other opposition members have done, that is to join other parties.

William Ruto is secretary general of KANU. He told VOA Kenyatta’s decision is contrary to the official position of KANU.

“At the meeting of the top organ of the party, called the National Delegate Conference, it was resolved that the members of KANU were going to join forces with members other political parties in ODM. The decisions by the chairman and a few people to support Honorable Mwai Kibaki are individual decisions. They are not the decisions of the party, and until the party calls another National Delegate Conference to decide otherwise, the position of the party remains that the membership which is actually the majority, about 80 percent of the membership of KANU are currently in ODM,” he said.

Kenyatta reportedly said he was supporting the re-election of President Kibaki so that KANU members would get jobs in the next government. Ruto described that as narrow-minded.

“I think that is a very narrow and very short-sighted way of looking at things because you don’t form a political party for the sake of getting ministerial positions in another government. You run a political party because you have an agenda, you have a program for the country, and you want to run for the high office to create a government and implement your manifesto and your agenda,” Ruto said.

In further defending his decision to support President Kibaki, Kenyatta criticized other KANU members whom he said have gone to join other parties like ODM-Kenya.

Ruto said it was baffling that Kenyatta would run away from about one point eight million voters who voted for him in the last election. He said the only reason Kenyatta decided to support Kibaki was because they both come from the same tribe.

“Uhuru Kenyatta has gone to support Mwai Kibaki who comes from the same region like himself. And in fact no amount of excuse is going to fly. The only reason why our chairman and others are going to support Kibaki is basically for community reason, or better put, for tribal reason,” Ruto said.

Some like the Law Society of Kenya have reportedly called for a constitutional amendment to stop Kenyatta from supporting President Kibaki’s re-election bid. Ruto said there are rules guiding every democratic society.

“I think the issues are moral. The leader of the official opposition must have the moral duty to the people of Kenya and to the constitution of Kenya to respect the separation of power between the legislation, the executive, and the judiciary, and the leader of the official opposition forms part of the legislature, which is supposed to put the executive under check. And once the leader of the official opposition absconds from that responsibility, then he should morally, without even being prompted, resign that position,” he said.

Ruto predicts that come December, Uhuru Kenyatta will be in the opposition because he said President Kibaki will not win re-election.