Saturday, February 23, 2013

My take on the candidates in the Kenyan Presidential Election

Uhuru Kenyatta at a Political Rally
Although there are multiple contenders for the presidency there are only two serious “horses” in the race, current Prime Minister Odinga and Deputy Prime Minster Uhuru Kenyatta. The “third forces,” such as Peter Kenneth, Martha Karua and Musalia Mudavadi continue to float above water against the odds but have low chances of winning. Most news sources list a total of fifteen presidential candidates as of November. That being said, given the Constitution's rules, a runoff is highly likely in this situation, and the lesser candidates will be very important in terms of deciding the final victor. Also, given that Uhuru Kenyatta is facing the ICC, it is possible that one of the other candidates could make a real showing. These candidate profiles are my personal take. You might like it, and you might not like it. However, I think that these views are accurate.

Raila Odinga
Odinga is part of the Orange Democratic Party (ODM) and is the current Prime Minister of Kenya. He was awarded this position in 2008 after a power-sharing agreement due to the widespread protests after the 2007 election where many Kenyans felt Mwai Kibaki’s win was illegitimate and that in fact Odinga won. Odinga has been a member of parliament since 1992 and has served in various ministerial positions. As the son of Jaramogi Odinga Odinga, he has always been involved in the government. While he has a “cult-like” following and is admired as he is outspoken and has political tact, he also faces a large amount of criticism and controversy. In 1982 he was detained for a failed coup attempt against President Moi and again in 1988 for his criticisms of the president. He has also publicly condemned homosexuality. My reading of the Krieger Report indicates that there is credible evidence that he was heavily involved in or at least knew about the ethnic and political violence in 2007/2008, and specifically orchestrated the murder and attacks against Kikuyu and Bantu in the last presidential election. “His charm and humor move crowds, but people do not know whether to fear, love, respect, admire, or hate him.”

Uhuru Kenyatta
Kenyatta is part of the Party of National Unity and The National Alliance and the current Deputy Prime Minister of Kenya. The son of Jomo Kenyatta (founding father of Kenya), he was Daniel Moi’s preferred successor before he stepped down but was unsuccessful. He was an avid supporter of Kibaki in 2007 and is currently under investigation by the ICC for committing crimes against humanity during the post election violence. He has been active in politics since 1997 and has been surrounded with controversy and scandals dealing with the Kenyan budget. However, his is credited for beneficial programs and reforms including using social networking in the creation of a budget. He has great deal of support mainly due to his influence of the Kikuyu community, the largest ethnic population. However, the Kikuyu community is split, and not all blindly follow Kenyatta. His family is one of the largest landowners in Kenya. One might argue that he is a spoiled plutocrat. Many rumors suggest that he has a drinking or a drug problem. The ICC alleges that UK hired Mungiki to attack and murder Luos living in Naivasha.

William Ruto
Ruto, who is Kenyatta’s running mate, is part of ODM, United Republican Party, and Kenya African National Union and is the former agriculture minister is currently suspended on various corruption charges. He has been in politics for over thirteen years and has put his presidential ambitions on the side to support his part affiliate Odinga win the massive Rift Valley vote and most recently, partnered with Kenyatta. He is also facing crimes against humanity charges for his involvement in the post 2007 election violence. He was the mastermind behind the political violence in 2007/2008. He specifically orchestrated, knew about, organized, and facilitated the payment of Kalenjin Youth to murder and rape Kikuyu and Bantu, and also paid for their houses to be burned. I find it completely shocking and disappointing that Kenyatta is working with him. In fact, he should not be walking the streets at all.

Martha Wangari Karua
Karua is part of the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) and is a member of the Kenyan parliament and represents the Cichugy Constituency. She served in the judiciary for two decades and has a strong legal background. She was recognized by the Human Rights Watch as a human rights monitor and has spearheaded numerous reforms in the areas of constitutional and administrative law. “She is aggressive and outspoken and probably the most vibrant female politician in Kenya.” She is honest and smart, and one of the only candidates who has actually laid out a platform that speaks to the issues. 

Peter Kenneth
Kenneth is a lawyer by profession and served as a member of parliament since 2002. He is currently the Planning and National Development Assistant Minister. He has a great track record in parliament and the best developed constituency. Kenneth is known as an overall good guy as he paid taxes before the new constitution required it. However, he lacks national support and is less aggressive than other candidates. There is talk of him joining various alliances. 

Musalia Mudavadi
Mudavadi is a member of ODM and has been a part of past political alliances. In 2002 he was Kenyatta’s Vice President pick and in 2007 he ran as Odinga’s running mate. Currently is Kenya’s Deputy Prime Minster. He is under investigation for fraud by the Kenyan Anti-corruption Commission.

Kalonzo Musyoka
Musyoka, who is Odinga’s running mate, is a member of ODM and the current Vice President of Kenya. He was appointed the position by Kibaki after his unsuccessful attempt for the presidency. He served in the cabinets of both Moi and Kibaki. He is an ethnic Kingpin for the Kamba Community which will be crucial in this election. My critique is that he seems to available to the highest bidder. He has no clear ideology. 

Revised very slightly on March 15, 2013 to note that UK has been charged with murder in Naivasha, but these are as yet unproven allegations. 


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