Kenya: Today’s Presidential Announcement of Tullow Oil Drilling Find in Turkana (several weeks ago) Coincides with News of Major Cabinet Shakeup

“Kenya Strikes Oil in Turkana”, Capital FM

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 26 – After years of prospecting, Kenya has finally made a breakthrough by striking oil in Turkana County in the north, with focus now shifting to exploring its commercial viability.

The discovery of the light, waxy oil was made in a half-way drilled Ngamia-1 exploration well, raising expectations that there could be huge reserves once the total depth of 2,700 metres is reached.

“The well has been drilled to an initial depth of 1,041 metres and it will continue to a total depth of about 2,700 metres to explore for deeper potential in this prospect,” Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi said at a press briefing.

President Mwai Kibaki was the first to break the news earlier in the day. . . . .

The Nation’s “Big Story” is on the Cabinet.

The reshuffle seems hugely consequential in Kenya’s election year politics:  it certainly appears that Kibaki has made a large gesture toward realigning the Cabinet toward the “G7 Alliance” which has lingered as both the primary political vehicle to advocate for Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto against the ICC and most visible successor to much of the PNU apparatus from 2007-08.

The most prominent moves as explained by “A Political Kenya 2012”:

Eugene Wamalwa – Minister for Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs
– Biggest winner as the docket will promote him to the senior most politician in Western province and probably check Musalia Mudavadi’s rising star
– He is an Ocampo 4 sympathiser
– Was once linked to president Kibaki’s son (Jimmy Kibaki) 2012 campaign as his prefered presidential candidate.
– Also seen as a compromise candidate for the G7 alliance
Mutula Kilonzo – Minister of Education
– Demotion from Minister for Justice Minister for Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs despite having delivered a new constitution which many previous justice ministers failed to do
– Punished for being an ardent Ocampo 4 Critic and for not toeing the ODM Kenya line

Also, Moses Wetangala has been demoted from Foreign Affairs to Trade (just after finally getting out of Bamako following the Malian coup).  This would seem to tie in to advancing Eugene Wamalwa as Luhya political leader in Western Province to the detriment of Deputy PM and announced ODM candidate Musalia Mudavidi.  On the ODM side, Najib Balala is the only Minister completely sacked, losing Tourism.  The Coast figure has been at odds with Raila Odinga for much of Kibaki’s second term in and openly expressed “seller’s remorse” for supporting Raila irrespective of his status as a member of the “Pentagon” from the 2007 campaign.

And no change in status for Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta as he continues to fight the prospect of facing ICC trial and to rally ethnic support in Central Province.

The political establishment in Kenya will not be easily moved in the 2012 elections, now most likely ending up to be in 2013 through a complicated series of legal wickets for which no one has claimed responsibility and for which there is no obvious popular support.  I hope it is finally dawning of any doubters that the Government of Kenya as an institution is quite mobilized on balance to try to stop the ICC, as it has been–and not in favor of any substitute local justice mechanism.

The political stakes continue to rise and the prospect of oil money on the near term horizon if anything raises them more.  If nothing else, there will be a lot of pressure to do oil deals for campaign funding.

Khalwale Re-takes His Seat in Ikolomani–Tribal and Presidential Implications?

“The Bull Fighter Dr. Bonny Khalwale gored his way to parliament after emerging victorious in the completed Ikolomani parliamentary by-election with provisional results indicating to have won by 13208 votes against his rival Benard Shinali 10702 and 293 votes for Kizito . . .” reports West FM.

Here is a Friday, May 30 editorial from West FM ahead of Monday’s vote, articulating a view of Luhya tribal interests in the by-election–well worth a read to appreciate a major strain of thought in Kenyan politics, even after the 2007-08 tragedy:

“The Ikolomani bye-election to determine whether the Luhya community has the self belief and courage to go for the presidency of Kenya in 2012

The new Constitution secures the right of all Constituencies in Kenya to receive equitable development regardless of which party the Constituency votes for.  The template of dangling development projects using tax payers’ resources as a bait for the electorate to vote for a party is unconstitutional and plain corruption and impunity.

The Ikolomani Constituency Bye-election to be held on 23/05/2011 is not about which of those competing candidates will or will not bring development to the Constituency.   Which development can whoever is elected deliver in the remaining twelve months before the next General Elections slated under the new Constitution for August 2012?  The Ikolomani Constituency Bye-election is being quietly watched for what its results will portend and give bearing as to how the 2012 Kibaki succession shapes up in the coming months.

.  .  .  .

A vote for the ODM Candidate will be a clear statement that Western Kenya is not interested in and has no confidence in itself to be a contender for the 2012 Presidential Race.  That will be as clear as daylight granted the ODM Presidential baton  for 2012 is irretrievably in the “safe” and hands of Hon. Raila Odinga and let nobody fool you that he will surrender it to anybody come rain come sunshine unless Hon. Raila leaves that party.

Yes the ODM vote will be the loudest confession by Western Kenya through the people of Ikolomani as a microcosm that the Luhya Community is happy and contended to play second, third or fourth fiddle going into the 2012 Presidential Race.

A vote for New Ford Kenya in the By-elections on the other hand will be the loudest statement that Western Kenya and the Luhya Community is in the race for the Presidency of Kenya in 2012 regardless of who will be its eventual flag bearer whether it be Hon. Musalia Mudavadi or Hon. Eugene Wamalwa.  A vote for New Ford Kenya will be the voice of the people of Western Kenya to their present crop of leaders that they must put their act together and present Western Kenya’s and the Luhya Community’s bid for the Presidency in 2012 just as the Kalenjin Community has Hon. William Ruto as representing their Presidential ambition and the Kikuyu Community has Hon. Martha Karua and Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, the Kamba Community have Hon. Kalonzo Musyoka and the Luo Community has Hon. Raila Odinga.

The question at the moment is not whether or not Western Kenya’s Presidential contender will win or not in 2012 but that for Western Kenya to ever hope for the Presidency or anything else it must first be in the race or in the competition and put in an application for the job through a candidate.  And the people of Ikolomani Constituency know the name of the game through their colorful sport of bull fighting and where one cannot win a bull fight unless of course one has his bull in the contest, in the Arena, in Malinya Stadium.

The Ford People Candidate in the Ikolomani Constituency Bye-election is the only candidate whose candidature does not spill into the permutations of the 2012 Presidential Elections of Kenya and may be that one can say he should be judged without the blinkers of the 2012 Presidential race and therefore whether or not he has the ability to discharge the function of an MP.

Yes, all watchers of how the Presidential Race, jigsaw for 2012 will pan out are watching how Western Kenya’s dress rehearsal (through the Bye-election) of what role it will play, whether it will be a player or part of the cheering crowd, what political weight, value, price to assign Western Kenya in the political alliances, coalitions that will shape the 2012 Presidential Race.

The people of Ikolomani Constituency will on 23/05/2011 die the cast for Western Kenya and the Luhya Community as to whether the region has the ambition , gravitas and whether it will have its own veritable bull in Kenya’s 2012 Presidential Race or not.  In 1995 when Ikolomani Constituency held a similarly charged bye-election that Benjamin Magwaga won, it had the choice of the late Michael Wamalwa Kijana representing the Luhya Community’s urge for the Presidency on one side and President Moi on the other and the Ikolomani people chose President Moi. . . .

See the updated Wikipedia entry for quick analysis, and see Opalo’s Blog for the thoughts of a diaspora political science graduate student at Stanford.

Re-match in Ikolomani by-election Monday tests current state of Kenya’s politics (updated)

Party Office--New  Ford Kenya

Update–follow local coverage at West FM here.  With some exceptions, voting seems to have proceeded peacefully.

Monday’s by-election in Ikolomani, Western Province, will be a key test for both the election authorities and for law enforcement, as well as for future political stature in Western heading into the 2012 campaign.

“Security beefed up in Ikolomani”

Security officers have been directed to deal firmly with reported cases of bribery and voter intimidation as voters in Ikolomani pick their new MP on Monday.

The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) said voters in the constituency should be left to pick their next MP freely.

Commissioner Hamara Ibrahim Aden said it would be up to officers on the ground to ensure those involved in violence and voter bribery were arrested.

There will be two police officers deployed at each polling station during voting.
. . . .
ODM and New Ford Kenya have been involved in intense campaigns for the Ikolomani seat.

Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi pitched camp at the constituency to ensure the ODM candidate emerged the winner.

Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa and Housing minister Soita Shitanda have been pushing for voters to re-elect Dr Khalwale.

A victory for the ODM candidate will be a big boost to Mr Mudavadi, who is trying to ward off competition from the Saboti MP for the region’s political supremacy.

Mr Wamalwa, who has declared he will vie for the presidency in the next general election, hopes to consolidate support in the region should Dr Khalwale be re-elected to complete his term.
. . . .
Presiding officers in Ikolomani have been equipped with laptops and mobile phones to transmit the results from respective polling stations after completing the tallying process.

Commissioner Aden said the officials had been trained on the use of the gadgets and no delays were expected in release of the results.
.  .  .  .
Dr Boni Khalwale was first elected to Parliament on a Narc ticket in 2002 and went in for a second term in 2007 on New Ford Kenya ticket.

But his term was cut short after the High Court nullified his election citing irregularities in the tallying of votes.

The petition was filed by Mr Shinali, who in the previous election, narrowly lost to Dr Khalwale.

In the meantime, the other big showdown, for the Kamukunji seat in Nairobi, has instead turned into a battle between the courts and the electoral commission. The IIEC acted wisely, in my opinion, in postponing the election to recognize a High Court injunction, although taking great umbrage at what the commission sees as interference with their prerogatives and in the face of encouragement from elected officials and party leaders to go ahead in spite of the court.

On Friday High Court judge Daniel Musinga temporarily halted the by-election scheduled for tomorrow until a petition filed by an aggrieved aspirant is heard and determined.

The applicant, Paul Waweru Mwangi of the National Vision Party challenged the legality of nominations conducted by the Interim Independent Electoral Commission and the returning officer Joseph Masindet on April 27 and 28.

Mr Mwangi complained that his nomination papers were rejected by the returning officer.

In his ruling Justice Musinga said the IIEC violated the aspirant’s constitutional right to be a candidate in the by-election.

From The Star, here is criticism of the Court decision from ODM, and here from NARC-Kenya.