Kenya’s presidential race is on/ Kenya: la course aux présidentielles est ouverte

(Liens en anglais/ links in english)

Selon un article du International Herald Tribune, le Kenya tiendra des élections le 27 décembre prochain. Raila Odinga est un prétendant sérieux pour succéder au président sortant Mwai Kibaki. Odinga laisse entendre que le thème de l’ethnicité n’a pas sa place dans ces élections. C’est une déclaration louable, mais il ne faut pas oublier qu’en 2002, des milices ethniques, dont les Vigilante Luo apparement affiliés à Odinga, sont venues perturber la vie des habitants de Nairobi.

Kenya has changed over the last decade. From the tight grip on the national politics from Daniel Arap Moi, the country has turned into a democracy where we witness the competition between the current president Mwai Kibaki and a long time contender Raila Odinga for the December 27th general elections. This is what a report from the International Herald Tribune says:

The election is Thursday, and for the past several months most polls have predicted that Odinga, 62, will unseat the current president, Mwai Kibaki, though some recent surveys show the president catching up, with the race now too close to call.

Kibaki, 76, is vintage old guard. He is from Kenya’s dominant tribe, the Kikuyu; he has been a member of Parliament ever since Kenya’s independence in 1963; and he is a reliable friend of big business and the United States (his campaign ads are even in red, white and blue.)

OdingaOdinga [left] seems different. For starters, he is Luo, one of the country’s largest tribes, but one that many Kenyans feel has never gotten its fair due. And despite Kenya having one of the most mature democracies in Africa, many people here still vote strictly along tribal lines.

Kenya’s 37 million people are split among some 40 distinct ethnic groups. And unlike many politicians – especially Kikuyu ones – who would rather not acknowledge tribal frictions, Odinga is confronting them head on and has made inclusion and an end to discrimination the cornerstones of his campaign.

“Ethnicity is the disease of the elite,” he said, adding that throughout Kenya’s history, money, land and opportunity have been sprinkled around unequally, based on tribe.

OK, Odinga has a point. But the problem of ethnicity won’t be solved by just saying it’s bad… We’d like to remind that in the presidential elections of 2002, militias were raised in Nairobi to support the presidential candidates: the Mungiki, Bagdad Boys, Jezi La Embakasi and Vigilante Luo (supposedly affiliated with Odinga). These militias stirred up ethnic divide.

We can wonder if a change at the presidency with Odinga will change something. A lot of hope rose when Kibaki succeeded to Arap Moi in 2002. But, because his lack of innovation his party, the NARC (National Rainbow Coalition) was labelled in the streets: “Nothing has Really Changed”. Since September, Kibaki runs under a new party: the PNU (Party of National Unity). Let’s hope the streets won’t find a new meaning for this acronym if he wins. The same goes for Odinga’s party: the ODM (Orange Democratic Movement).

On another note, and before the winner is elected, we can notice the participation of the “first ladies”, according to the Sunday Nation Newspaper.:

…the appeal by First Lady Lucy Kibaki, Mrs Ida Odinga (Raila’s wife) and Mrs Pauline Musyoka (Kalonzo’s wife) to women, who form the majority of the country’s 14.3 million voters, will determine the winner.

For some news on Kenya and the elections see Kenyan Pundit.


The International Herald Tribune provides a picture of Odinga’s campaign in the area of the Masai communities (Suswa). The Kenyan TV covered the event, where Odinga addresses the land issue. (See below)

Le International Herald Tribune nous montre une photo d’Odinga en campagne électorale dans la région de Suswa, dans une région où vivent les communautés Masai. Le télévision kenyanne y était aussi et nous montre Odinga traitant de la question de la distribution des terres.