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Opponents of Kenya's Moi to Launch 'Super Alliance' - 2002-09-16

Opponents of Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi say they are going to launch a "Super Alliance" to oust his ruling Kenya African National Union party in December's elections. Analysts say that if the so-called Super Alliance materializes, it could represent a formidable challenge to Mr. Moi's KANU party.

Proponents of the Super Alliance envision a united front between the National Party of Kenya (NAK), the Kenya People's Coalition, and a group of ruling party rebels known as the Rainbow Alliance.

NAK's chairman, Noah Wekesa, says he is confident the three groups will unite following a massive political rally Sunday in the western city of Kisumu. The rally was organized by the Rainbow Alliance, but leaders from the two opposition groups also attended and spoke in a historic first for Kenyan politics.

Mr. Wekesa says the Rainbow Alliance leaders have promised him that they are going to cross over to the opposition. He says that includes KANU Secretary General Raila Odinga and George Saitoti, who was recently fired as vice president.

"They said that we know that President Moi is not going to accept our terms, and therefore we have a plan B and we are going to join the opposition," he said. "They have said that on many occasions, including Kisumu."

The Rainbow Alliance is pushing President Moi to use a secret ballot to choose the party's next presidential candidate at an upcoming party conference. But Mr. Moi has already been busy touring the country to introduce voters to his chosen successor, Uhuru Kenyatta.

Mr. Kenyatta is a political novice whose main selling point is that he is the son of Kenya's founding father, Jomo Kenyatta.

Political commentator John Githongo says political loyalties are shifting in Kenya and that gives the Super Alliance merger a chance to happen.

"Nothing can be predicted right now," he said. "Who would have imagined that a few months ago the vice president of the republic would be part of a group that looks like, sounds like, part of the opposition? So anything is possible, absolutely anything is possible. It is the natural direction for things to go strategically, but as we have seen, Kenyan politicians do not often think very strategically."

Mr. Githongo says the difficulty would lie in selecting one presidential candidate from among so many aspirants. He says one of the main reasons KANU has never lost an election is because the opposition has never managed to unite behind one presidential candidate.