Kenya’s leading opposition presidential candidate for the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is challenging incumbent President Mwai Kibaki to name his running mate ahead of this month’s general elections. Raila Odinga dared Kibaki to name his running mate to stop Kenyans from guessing, since both he and the other opposition presidential candidate, Kalonzo Musyoka, have chosen their running mates for upcoming elections. But some political observers say Odinga’s challenge is a calculated attempt to undermine the recent significant poll gains by President Kibaki.
Professor Kabiru Kinyanjui is a Kenyan political analyst. From the capital Nairobi, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that Odinga wants the president to alienate some of his support base in his choice of a running mate.
“This results from the fact that Raila’s running mate Musalia Mudavadi has a campaign advertisement which has shown that Raila sometime back in 2002 indicated that Musalia Mudavadi was very corrupt and was involved in the Goldenberg scam. And therefore, since Musalia has been attacked that way, he is trying to ask Kibaki to name his running mate so that they can be able to attack or see how they can be able to put holes to his running mate. And the second thing is that by Kibaki naming his running mate, then it could alienate people in western province, and that would make him lose some votes in the western province,” he noted.
Kinyanjui says he disagrees with Odinga’s demand for incumbent President Kibaki to name a running mate, describing it as unconstitutional.
“The Kenyan constitution does not require a presidential candidate to name his vice presidential candidate, and therefore, even Raila was not required to do so. He had to do that so that he can win the votes of western province of Kenya,” he said.
Kinyanjui denied speculations that Kibaki’s promise to increase pay of teachers is part of his re-election bid.
“The first thing is that the deal the teachers had with the government since 1997 came to an end this year. And what the president had indicated is that he is going to appoint a committee, which would look into teachers’ pay in the coming year. What we need to understand is that teachers have been agitating for the increase of their pay, and the government also has a budget that has one of the highest in the region. So I do see a major constraint in terms of increasing teachers’ salaries, while giving free primary education, and also coping to the increase in infrastructure for the increased number of teachers,” he pointed out.
Kinyanjui said the committee the president will set up to look into teachers would soon come out with a methodology and advise the president accordingly “so the appointment of the committee is the one which is going to indicate whether the salary increase is for the teachers or not.”