Political ‘wedding day’ in Nairobi

Ballot for President with the Nine Nominees
PRESIDENTIAL BALLOT FROM 2007

Today was the deadline for filing of pre-election agreements between and among Kenya’s political parties. No big surprises in terms of the basic shape of the Odinga-led versus the Kenyatta-led groupings. As this is a non-partisan blog, and I don’t vote in Kenya as an American, I will not be suggesting how Kenyans should vote or endorsing anyone, but I’ll share a few quick thoughts “from where I sit”.

The agreement of Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka to be Raila’s running mate seems to have come down to the wire, although it is a bit hard for me to see how this would be too much of a surprise to people paying close attention.

Ostensible ODM Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, Raila’s running mate last time, joined Uhuru Kenyatta’s TNA grouping at the last minute, but he has been out of ODM and on to UDF for a long time and has long been seen as the potential “compromise” candidate to substitute for Uhuru and/or Ruto in the event the Kenyan courts were to ultimately disqualify either or both of them due to the ICC cases or some related complication. It would be risky for Uhuru and Ruto not to have someone suitable in that role.

On the Odinga side, the new CORD grouping has picked up Charity Ngilu and NARC along with Kalonzo which means he has picked up both sides of a division within “Eastern” politics and added a woman of longstanding political stature. With both Kalonzo and Moses Wetangula, CORD has two former Foreign Ministers, with Kalonzo in particular having been around a long time in diplomatic circles. He is someone with whom those in foreign capitals who are concerned with Kenya’s stability as a perceived regional anchor will be used to and comfortable with.

Absent the ICC situation, Uhuru and Ruto would be potentially attractive to some in the West as representing the notion of a mini “grand coalition” appeasing the elite of the combatants in the violence related to land and political boundaries in the Rift Valley that has normally coincided with Kenyan elections post-Cold War and they will be well funded to try to sell that pitch irrespective of the pending charges. I have a hard time seeing them get any traction, but I have been wrong before.

No disrespect intended to the other candidates–another post for later. The whole thing will be fascinating to watch, but scary due to the real dangers.

Good piece in today’s Financial Times from Katrina Manson in Nairobi.

2 thoughts on “Political ‘wedding day’ in Nairobi

    • I certainly hope so, too. It seems to me that there is significantly more violence in more places in Kenya than in the comparable period in 2007. Likewise, looking at the track record going back to previous elections, there is plenty of precedent to suggest that people are vulnerable. SO, individual Kenyans are going to really have to make a commitment not to take out whatever frustrations arise on their neighbors and not to be willing to be paid to fight.

      Obviously most people didn’t fight last time–unfortunately it only takes a small number of police, a small number of fighters, and few to incite, organize and pay, to wreak havoc temporarily.

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