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From: john arende

Why Raila’s popularity has been rising

By JOHN CHERUIYOT  / Kenya Times
Two powerful leaders in the Nyayo era have not supported Ruto or given support to ODM-K the party most Kenyans seem to identify with.

William Ruto has not performed or faired well in national politics despite being from the fourth
largest community in the country.

Ruto’s dismal performance hinges basically on his character and political inconsistence. His role in the YK92 lobby group has had a negative effect on his reputation. This was worsened by his rejection by former President Daniel arap Moi. It is also obvious that it was Raila’s idea that Ruto be a contender. This was an opportunity for the community to rally behind Ruto and somehow neutralise Moi’s grip on the Kalenjin community.

Many today believe and think that to capture the Kalenjin vote one must negotiate with tribal chiefs or former power brokers. That once Moi or Biwott endorse a leader the community endorses the same fanatically the way it did in 2002.

It may explain why Moi and Biwott are in good books with the Kibaki administration.

In 2003 both Moi and Biwott were in bad books of the current administration. They were marginalised and ignored. Not any more. Today Kibaki has a soft spot for Moi and Biwott more than Raila Odinga.

Moi has blasted ODM-K leadership and has advised the Kalenjin community to stick with KANU. So far Uhuru Kenyatta has changed tune and echoed Moi’s call. He has pulled out of ODM-K and has further downplayed his bid for the presidency. It appears that both Moi and Uhuru have settled on Kibaki.

This will give Kibaki a chance to finish his second term. Thereafter in post-Kibaki era Uhuru Kenyatta will no doubt emerge as the indisputable leader of the Kikuyu community. Given the fact that Kikuyus have a reputation for not supporting anybody else during voting except one of their own, Uhuru’s chances in 2012 are bound to be stronger.

Many see Moi’s support for Uhuru as tied to his son Gideon Moi. Should Uhuru run for presidency in 2012 Gideon Moi will naturally be his running mate. This could make the oft speculated Kenyatta-Moi dynasty a reality in Kenya.

The greatest challenge is Raila Odinga.The emergence of Raila as the leader to challenge the old order is a threat to Moi-Kibaki-Kenyatta axis.

From the word go the Odinga family factor in Kenya has been a reform and revolutionary ideology in the country. Since the days of Oginga Odinga post independent governments have been jittery and totally opposed to the Odingas. First Oginga [Raila’s father] was pro-socialism and anti-capitalism. He differed fundamentally with Kenyatta [the father of Uhuru] on national issues. One being the land issue. Oginga wanted the land formerly held by colonialists to be returned to former indigenous communities. Oginga wanted the Kalenjin and the Masai and Samburu to be resettled in their ancestral lands, which were grabbed by the colonialists. This may explain why the Luo community did not settle in Rift Valley. On the contrary Kenyatta settled his community in both Rift Valley and Coast provinces. The demotion of Oginga Odinga in the 1960s by Kenyatta was basically both ideological and the land issue in Rift Valley.

As soon as Moi was made Kenya’s VP leading Kalenjin leaders like Marie Seroney and William Murgor were furious. They saw Kenyatta’s hand and his thirst for Rift Valley land.

The land question and the issue of Kikuyu and other communities has been a thorn in Kenya’s flesh.

Currently Raila Odinga has captured the imagination of Kenyans on the issue of devolution. He is the only vocal voice on devolution and federal dispensation in post independent Kenya. Moi thought at first a federalist in KADU backtracked on the subject. Marie Seroney a Kalenjin was a federalist and died yearning for federal dispensation.

So the issue of devolution is very dear to the people of Rift Valley and Coast provinces. It should be noted further that Kadu a federalist party was supported in the 1960s by three provinces namely: Western, Rift Valley and Coast. It was supported further by four communities namely Kalenjin, Masai, Luyia and Mijikenda. Hence the emergence of Raila from Nyanza in support of federal dispensation is a powerful political dynamite. The Kalenjin in particular are for devolution. They are likely to be attracted to Raila.They will not listen to Moi or Biwott. Currently the Raila mania is sweeping through Rift Valley, Western, Nyanza and Coast.

The issue of devolution, which was championed by the Bomas Draft, was punctured by the Wako Draft. Hence the 2005 referendum was basically a battle between those for unitary and those for federal system. The federalist won. Raila Odinga the architect and the hero of the 2005 referendum has a upper hand over his rivals in ODM-K. He also has an upper hand over Kibaki. The latest Steadman rating put Kibaki at 45% a drop from 51% while Raila moved from 17% to 25%. This steady rise will eventually catch up with Kibaki and overtake him.

The fact that crowds are for Raila in every part of the country and the fact that Raila’s popularity is on the rise should worry his adversaries.

Poverty and hopelessness have totally dehumanised the people of Kenya, yet the leaders have not been keen or concerned with their problems. Leaders for 44 years have been ethnocentric and selfish.

Adika Arende John

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