Ray of Hope in Kenya

After two months of mayhem, there is now a hope for an end to bloodshed in Kenya. The two leaders, Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, have signed an agreement of power-sharing. So what went wrong….

Tribal Voting Patterns (Let me vote my caste in….)
The major ethnic groups in Kenya are Kikuyu (21%), Meru (5%), Kalenjin, Luyha, Luo (14%), Kisii, Kamba, Swahili, Masai, and Turkana. But Kikuyu and Luo tribes have shared the bulk of political power. Their party KANU ruled Kenya for 40 years which also included 24 years under the corrupt Daniel arap Moi.

The Kikuyu Tribe, which originally belongs to the Bantu group and which organized the Muo Muo rebellion against the British, dominate the Central Province. The tribe’s fiercely loyal to Mwai Kibaki. Kibaki, who came to power in 2002, was expected to end corruption and rejuvenate the economy.
But rifts Within the National Alliance of Rainbow Coalition, a coalition between Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and National Alliance Party of Kenya (NAK), has solved none of Keyna’s problems. Members loyal to Kibaki formed NARC-Kenya and Kibaki as their presidential candidate.

The Luo Tribe dominate the Nyanza province. Luos have supported Raila Odinga, who is a Luo and heads the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). Kibaki joined LDP in 2002 after Moi supported Uhuru Kenyatta – a son of Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta as the presidential candidate. The LDP later joined NARC under a power-sharing agreement, which provided a prime-minister position for Odinga. Kibaki did not appoint Odinga Prime Minister on assuming office. This led to a rebellion and the formation of ODM.
BBC’s article on Odinga mentions that his supporters say that he is fearless and a successful businessman and hence the right man to put an end to Kenya’s problems. His detractors call him a dictator in the making. The other tribes and Muslims, who feel marginalized under Kibaki, have also supported Odinga.

Elections in December 2007 returned Kibaki to power for a second five-year term, but Odinga has accused Kibaki’s Party of National Unity of rigging the vote. What followed was an internecine feud amongst Kibaki’s Kikuyus and the rest of the tribes. The violence was dominant in Central Valley, Nyanza and Rift Valley. More than 1000 people were killed and about 300,000 displaced. There were numerous reports of mutilations and rapes.

Kibaki and Odinga, have finally reached on an agreement. The credit for securing the peace deal goes to the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and African Union president Jakaya Kikwete. The agreement gives Odinga the post of prime minister and the cabinet posts to be divided equally between parties. It remains to be seen how long the peace deal would last and if the two leaders can restore the diverse social fabric. As Kofi Annan said: “The journey is far from over. In fact it is only beginning.”


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