Thursday, October 6, 2011



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

October 5, 2011

The political alliances of 2002 and 2007 bring out the futility of these alliances much more clearly than even in past situations.

In early 2002 when Raila Odinga’s NDP joined KANU to form a formidable election machine that would wipe out any possible contenders to the throne, the situation became so dire that Mwai Kibaki, Charity Ngilu and Kijana Wamalwa quickly formed their own alliance. In essence, Moi’s corner had the Kalenjin, Luo, Somali, Luhya, Kamba, Mijikenda, Maasai and Kisii solidly behind KANU. Kibaki’s corner on the other hand had Wamalwa’s Bukusu community, Charity Ngilu’s Kamba and Kibaki’s own GEMA alliance from Mt. Kenya region.

However, the dynamics of Kenya’s tribal politics soon changed the equation faster than anybody could have expected.

One may remember that at the KANU-NDP Delegates merger conference, Moi played some dirty politics on his long time believers causing them for the first time to consider ditching him. At that Kasarani meeting, all Moi was concerned about was to rearrange the KANU top leadership in such as manner that should he choose to pick his successor, he would not meet any stiff opposition.

To achieve his objective, he choreographed the Kasarani Delegates Conference to replace the long serving KANU Secretary General, JJ Kamotho with Raila Odinga of NDP. He at the same time neutralized Professor George Saitoti’s number two position in KANU with four KANU national Vice chairmen. They were Uhuru Kenyatta of Central Province, Katana Ngala of Coast, Musalia Mudavadi of Western and Kalonzo Musyoka of Eastern Province.

In effect what Moi was trying to achieve was to have KANU perceived as the party of the majority tribes in Kenya. It had Kikuyus, Luos, Kalenjins, Luhyas, Kambas, Maasiais, Kisiis, Kurias, Mijikenda, Somalis and a host of smaller tribes that had benefitted from Moi’s 24 year rule.

However, as is always with Kenyan tribal politics, this alliance fell apart just three months later when the players got to understand Moi’s real game plan. He was adamant that there would not be free and fair election of the KANU torch bearer in the impending elections. He had secretly settled for Uhuru Kenyatta, then a novice in national politics to succeed him at the expense of the more seasoned politicians such as George Saitoti, JJ Kamotho, Raila Odinga and other long serving KANU stalwarts.

As the bickering reached its peak in the New KANU, with Moi adamant to have his way with Uhuru Kenyatta, rebel members led by Raila Odinga walked out on Moi to form the Liberal Democratic Party just weeks before the general election in December 2002. This development saw Moi’s tribal alliance disintegrate before his eyes leaving him with Uhuru’s section of Kikuyu and the Kalenjin to face the electorate.

Meanwhile, LDP tribal alliance consisted of Luos, Kambas, Kikuyus, Masais and majority of Luhya leaders. In essence, the tribal leaders that formed the alliance were Raila Odinga, George Saitoti, William Ole Ntimama, Kalonzo Musyoka, Fred Gumo and Moody Awori.

To beat Moi at the polls, the LDP group quickly hatched a plot to join forces with Kibaki’s alliance of Kijana Wamalwa and Charity Ngilu. In Kibaki’s corner we had Musikari Kombo, Mukhisa Kituyi, Kijana Wamalwa, Charity Ngilu, Kiraitu Murungi, Martha Karua and John Munyao as notable leaders of the Alliance. This was what came to be known as the Rainbow Alliance of the majority tribes in Kenya’s NARC. It was the vehicle that finally swept Kibaki to power with Raila Odinga as his chief campaigner. The Luo- Kikuyu Alliance had once again led an onslaught and won elections just like it did in 1963.

However, history has a habit of repeating itself. Exactly two years after this election victory, Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki parted ways just as his father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga had parted ways with Jomo Kenyatta two years after independence.

When Raila Odinga’s LDP split from NARC to oppose a mutilated constitution document, he convinced remnants of KANU to join his bandwagon in opposing the document. Among the KANU figures that joined him in opposing Kbaki’s government were William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta, then KANU national Chairman and Official Leader of the Opposition in Parliament.

When Kibaki lost the referendum vote, he sacked all the LDP ministers in the NARC coalition and replaced them with individuals from KANU and FORD- People of Simeon Nyachae.

The 2007 elections did not prove any better for tribal alliances. Whereas Kibaki formed PNU to galvanize votes in Mt. Kenya region, Kisii, Coast and Eastern Provinces, he found the going tough in vote rich Rift Valley, Nyanza, Western Provinces and parts of Eastern , North Eastern and Coast Provinces. The Luo, Kalenjin, Luhya, Maasai, Somali and Mijikenda saw ODM win the majority seats in parliament- over 100 seats compared to Kibaki’s PNU with 47 seats.

However, as Kenyans already know, the Luo- Kalenjin Alliance that went to the polls in 2007 as one united front is no more. Comrades have turned on each other with unprecedented vengeance. This is another proof that tribal alliances will always be fickle.