Kenya's opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) claims that last month's election was rigged in favour of President Mwai Kibaki. Protests have led to over 900 deaths nationwide and more than 250,000 people have fled their homes.
According to the official results, Mr Kibaki won with a tiny margin of 230,000 votes out of a total cast of some 10 million. There were various discrepencies in the elections, such as:
- The results were delayed for more than a day, at a time when ODM candidate Raila Odinga was leading
- Many thousands of people seem to have only voted in the presidential election but not the parliamentary or local polls held at the same time
- Some of these results came from areas known to be pro-Kibaki
- In the parliamentary race, Mr Odinga's ODM won twice as many seats as Mr Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU)
- Results in some constituencies were different when announced nationally, to when they had previously been announced locally
- The head of the election commission has admitted that turnout in one constituency was 115%.
It is important to understand the background of both parties and their allegiences.
I) The Party of National Unity (PNU) headed by the incumbent president Mwai Kibaki. This group actually is an alliance for the following groups:
1. National Rainbow Coalition-Kenya: This is Kibaki’s original party.
2. The Democratic Party (DP)
3. Kenya African National Union (KANU)
4. Forum for the Restoration of Democracy-Kenya.
5. Forum for the Restoration of Democracy-People.
6. Shirikisho Party of Kenya.
9. Sisi Kwa Sisi
Most of these ten parties are led by the regional tribal leaders. This alliance was hastily cobbled up just before the general elections because Kibaki feared that chances of his NARC party winning the polls alone were slim. He therefore forged this alliance under a single umbrella to face the opposition as a unified front.
II) The Opposition Alliance: The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) which split into three outfits:
1. The Orange Democratic Movement is the main group and the strongest of the alliance. This is led by Raila Odinga who is the Opposition Leader who is form Lou, the second largest tribe in Kenya. He was chosen to head the party in its conclave held recently and nominated to be the opposition candidate for the Kenyan presidency in the ensuing elections. Immedeately on being elected leader, Odinga took the initiative to foster cordial relations with all his 5 rivals whom he had defeated at the party conference. This was designed to put forward a unified opposition front as these rival leaders represented various tribes as follows:
A. Musalia Mudavadi, the former Vice President represented the Luhya tribe which is the 3rd largest tribe on Kenya.
B. William Ruto, was the right hand man of the former president Moi. He represents the Kanenjin tribe.
C. Najeeb Bala’la’, a Muslim of the Yemeni (Hadhrami) origin. He is a strong supporter of Raila Odinga within the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).
D. Joseph Niagah, who although belongs to the Kikuyu tribe of the current president, yet is in the opposition.
E. Charity Ngilu, is from the Kamba tribe who heads the NARC alliance which actually brought Kibaki to the presidency. She then joined the opposition.
Raila won the nomination to head the oppostion alliance thanks to the American support which is evident from the statements of the US Ambassador who called upon the voters to back the “youth” , indicating Raila who is many years junior to Kibaki.
It is known that Kibaki who inspite of his previous British loyalties, was closer to the US in his tenure as president during 2002-2005 and the US had hoped to lure him to its ways especially after his US visit in 2003.
Britain on its part had foisted its own men around the president by using the ‘carrot and stick’ tactics. This campaign for Britain was carried out by the former president Moi who is a bastion of the British politics in Kenya: Moi thretened to start an intensive campaign to expose Kibaki’s corrupt practices, at the same time he offered to support him in the next prsendential elections. Moi convinced him that the current public opinion was against the US and cited the results of the 2005 referendum on the draft constitution prepared by Kibaki which went against him. Kibaki was convinced that the people and their votes were with Moi and thereby the British loyalists and if he went wioth them, he can be assured of a second presidential term.
Thus by using the threat of exposure and incentive for a second term, Britain ensured that since 2005, Kibaki reverted back to his original loyalty.This prompted the US to back Raila as Kibaki’s rival.
Consequently, the alliance in power started a massive campaign against Raila and the US as follows:
A. The government charged Raila that he promised the Americans to establish their military base in Kenya.
B. The government refused to allow American observers for elections from the Carter Center while permitting only EU deputed observers.
C. Newton Kulundu, the Labour Minister in the government charged the US of ignoring the Human rights and liberties aspirations of the Third World and cited the Guantanamo and Abu Ghuraib incidents. This infuriated the US Ambassador so much so that he refused to shake hands with Kulundu.
D. The government supporters organised a protest at the site of the 1998 US embassy blasts and raised anti-American slogans.
2. The Orange Democratic Movement-Kenya (ODM-K) is led by Kalonzo Musyoko, a conservative christian with links to the former president Moi and belongs to the 5th largest Kenyan tribe of Kamba. It may be recalled that Kalonzo had split from the original ODM before its conference where Raila was elected its leader. He his regarded by most local observers as a government agent sent to the opposition in order to cause disruption in its ranks and confuse the voters due to the similarity in the names and their election symbols. Kalonzo has so far only succeeded in getting a few leaders to his party from his own tribe. His party is therefore regarded as a mere tribal entity.
3. Kenya African National Union (KANU) has further split into two factions:
1. Faction led by Uhuru Kenyatta the younger son of the first Kenyan president Jomo Kenyatta. He has little political expertise but belongs to the largest Kenyan tribe of Kikuyu. He is widely regarded as a pawn in the hands of the former president Moi. Until recently, Uhuru was in the opposition ODM even during the referendum on the new draft constitution in November 2005, but switched his loyalties to the current president Kibaki under pressure from former president Moi. As a result, the ODM movement was reduced to being a single party rather than an alliance.
2. The new Kenya African National Union (KANU) led by Nicholas Biwott, who is a right-hand man of Moi. There wer persistent rivalries between Biwott and Uhuru, but were sorted out by Moi to unify the KANU.
Raila is the strongest opponent of Kibaki who was nominated by the ODM as the presidential candidate. This is why Kibaki spared no effort to engineer a split in the ranks of the ODM with the help of former president Moi. Hence the opposition charged Kibaki of allying with a dictator.
Both Kibaki and Moi are from the British Imperialist background are working to keep Kenya under the British influence and to isolate Raila who appears to harbour American loyalty. They regard him as dangerous for the British influence as he is an impressive orator who can sway the people with his eloquent speaking skills.
This is another example of the turmoil created by the meddling of the Western powers in Africa, a rich continent destroyed by the greed of the colonialists.