Giant coalition threatened by electoral campaigns

The pretense at cordiality within the giant coalition appears to be fading amidst feverish campaigns for next week’s by elections.

The campaigns themselves also indicate that nothing has changed in spite of a near civil war earlier this year that left 1,500 dead. Ethnic slurs, scandalization and threats have marked the countdown to the June 11th by elections.

Politicians from ODM, PNU and ODM-K publicly accuse the other of betrayal, of cheating, of backstabbing and of connivance. The individual parties within each bloc have all indicated their wish to pursue different paths in the next general elections of 2012. In Emuhaya constituency, Cyrus Jirongo announced that his KADDU party will begin recruiting next year so as to become a powerful force in Western Province politics.

In Nairobi, Health Minister Beth Mugo criticized the ODM for claiming that the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) would rig the by elections in PNU’s favor. Mrs Mugo dismissed the ODM allegations as aimed at forestalling defeat. Meanwhile, Justice Minister Martha Karua called on voters to help President Mwai Kibaki’s PNU maintain a 50% presence in Parliament.

On the ODM side, activist and ex-Member of Parliament, Reuben Ndolo warned that ODM had a 50% stake in government that should, “not be taken for granted.” Apparently, these by elections are all about ensuring either side maintains the 50-50 coalition formula.

Respected personalities such as former speaker, Francis ole Kaparo and business woman Esther Passaris have joined the ethnic-based political bandwagon. Esther, who is vying for the Embakasi parliamentary seat, is laying greater emphasis on her Kikuyu middle name – Muthoni. Yesterday during political campaigns, she introduced her Kikuyu mother to the crowd to, as she put it, “prove that she is a real Kikuyu.”

Meanwhile, the ODM has accused the government and the ECK of attempting to rig the Kilgoris by election. In that constituency, ODM supported a candidate from the immigrant Kipsigis community against the wishes of the Maasai who are native to the area. Angry Maasai elders then shifted all their support to the PNU candidate. ODM secretary general, Anyang’ Nyong’o says the ECK has only employed Maasai as electoral clerks, a claim that the ECK has denied. Nevertheless, its beginning to appear that a victory for the Kipsigis candidate in Kilgoris will be violently resisted by the Maasai.

All in all, unless there is a very drastic change in Kenya’s political characteristics, the next general elections can only portend doom for the people

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