Saturday, December 29, 2007

Kenya Election Update: Odinga Opens Gap in Presidential Lead; Giants Fall; Focus on Parliament

Raila opens gap against Kibaki in State House race

Story by NATION Team
Publication Date: 2007/12/29

ODM presidential candidate Raila Odinga had Friday evening opened a 900,000 votes lead over President Kibaki as counting of presidential ballots entered the second day.

With about half of the votes tallied, Mr Odinga was leading with 3.3 million against the President’s 2.4 million votes.

Mr Odinga, the son of a Kenya’s first vice-president and opposition leader Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, was ahead of President Kibaki in Nyanza, Western, Coast and Rift Valley provinces.

President Kibaki was leading in Central and Eastern while the two were sharing the votes in Nairobi.

Kenyan law requires a winning presidential candidate to not only score a majority vote but also be elected MP and secure at least 25 per cent of the presidential vote in at least five of the eight provinces. Both President Kibaki and Mr Odinga appeared to satisfy these requirements.

Retired president Daniel arap Moi’s campaign for President Kibaki in Rift Valley Province appeared not to have convinced voters even in his own Baringo backyard, where results from several polling stations showed Mr Odinga leading.

Mr Moi’s sons, Gideon, Jonathan and Raymond, who were running for seats in the Rift Valley lost.

Announcing winners

On Friday, Mr Odinga complained to the ECK about what he described as delays in announcing the winners saying this was causing unnecessary anxiety among Kenyans. ECK commissioner Jack Tumwa explained that the commission had to verify and certify results before making them public.

Protests, incidents of violence and claims of attempts to introduce suspect ballot papers or tamper with the seals of ballot boxes were reported in Dagoretti, Kajiado North, Starehe, Embakasi and Kamukunji constituencies.

In some incidents, police had to use tear gas and shoot in the air to disperse rioting mobs.

NGOs asked the Electoral Commission of Kenya to speed up the release of election results. They said the delay was causing unnecessary anxiety and tension between the presidential, parliamentary and civic candidates and their respective parties.

In a statement, the National Convention Executive Council and Centre for Law and Research International, wondered why the media centre set up by ECK at Kenyatta International Conference Centre, was way behind the media houses in giving the public updates of who was winning where and by what margin.

Era of technology

The statement was also signed by Haki Focus, Citizens Coalition for Constitutional Culture and Community Based Development Services.

“In this era of technology, it is surprising that ECK seems to be moving at a snail’s pace in satisfying public hunger for information. There is no reason why ECK could not release provisional information as they wait to receive final confirmation of those results,” the lobby groups said.

But they commended the commission for a job well done in organising and conducting General Election, saying that despite the anxiety and the high stakes in the polls, Kenyans had displayed a high level of tolerance and maturity throughout the voting period.

And in Kisii, police are seeking to interview outgoing Kitutu Chache MP Jimmy Angwenyi following a shooting incident that left one voter dead and another injured at a polling station Friday.

The police want him to record a statement as they launched investigations into the incident that paralysed tallying of votes in the constituency.

Tallying of votes

The man was shot as a group surrounded Mr Angweny who was leaving Marani polling station where tallying of the votes was underway.

The gunshot sent the crowd fleeing in all directions as the man whose identity could not be immediately established remained writhing on the ground with blood gushing from his stomach.

Seconds later another gunshot rang out outside the gate to the polling station, causing further stampede.

A young man was found crying in pain with a gaping wound in the foot. He was later taken to hospital while the body of the shooting victim was taken to a mortuary.

Following the incident, ECK’s district elections coordinator Naftali Otuke rushed to Marani and personally took charge of the final phase of the exercise as the crowd waited impatiently outside.

The process was yet to be concluded by 5pm.

Mr Angwenyi, a PNU candidate, was one of the leading contenders for the Kitutu Chache seat, but by the time of the incident, his rival Richard Onyonka of the People’s Democratic Party was ahead in the race.

Newcomers trounce top politicians

Story by NATION Team
Publication Date: 2007/12/29

At least 20 ministers, including Vice-President Moody Awori, were among the giants who were felled by voters in Thursday’s elections.

The losers included President Kibaki’s long time allies as well as veteran politicians such as former influential Cabinet minister Nicholas Biwott.

Former President Moi’s son Gideon lost to former Lands Commissioner Sammy Mwaita.

Two other sons of retired President Moi – Jonathan and Raymond – were also rejected in the historic elections that saw little known newcomers make their way to the 10th Parliament.

A number of assistant ministers, party leaders among them Safina’s Paul Muite and Kanu chief whip Justin Muturi also fell by the way side.

Other losers are ministers Kipruto Kirwa, Raphael Tuju, Kivutha Kibwana, Mohamed Abdi Mahmud, Musikari Kombo, Joseph Munyao, Mutua Katuku, Newton Kulundu, David Mwiraria, Mukhisa Kituyi, Njenga Karume, Henry Obwocha and Simeon Nyachae.

Roads minister Nyachae lost the Nyaribari Chache seat to newcomer Robert Onsare Monda of Narc.

The former Nakuru-based veterinary officer defeated Mr Nyachae by 11, 336 votes to 9,909.

The fate of Paul Sang was also sealed while Njeru Ndwiga was trailing his opponent Emilio Kathuri.

Public Service minister Moses Akaranga lost to ODM presidential running mate Musalia Mudavadi while former Nairobi Water Company chairman Kabando wa Kabando dethroned Information and Communication’s minister Mutahi Kagwe.

Assistant ministers Kalembe Ndile, Raphael Wanjala’s fate was also sealed.

Tourism and Wildlife’s Morris Dzoro was trailing his main rival by the time of going to Press.

Counting disrupted

And Education minister George Saitoti was going through a hard time in his Kajiado North constituency where counting was violently disrupted with claims of rigging.

Mr Awori, who has represented Funyula for 25 uninterrupted years, lost to his bitter rival Dr Paul Otuoma of ODM.

Dr Otuoma sought court orders two weeks ago to block the police from arresting him and two others following the lynching of two people two years ago.

The court granted him a three-month reprieve to enable him campaign.

He told the court he was being harassed and intimidated through unwarranted arrests and prosecutions following his declaration to vie for Parliament against the VP.

Mr Biwott also lost the Keiyo South parliamentary seat which he has represented since 1979 to Mr Jackson Kiptanui of ODM.

An elated Kiptanui described the win as a miracle and appealed to professionals from the area to ‘‘come back home’’ and help develop the constituency.

Agriculture minister Kirwa who has served Cherengany as MP since 1989 was defeated by ODM’s Joshua Kutuni by 13,458 against 11,253.

The 29-year-old Kutuni, in welcoming his victory, said he would serve the cosmopolitan constituency without favouritism.

Dr Kulundu lost to retired auditor Manyala Keya of Ford Kenya who garnered 16,035 votes against Dr Kulundu’s 7,469.

Mr Mwiraria who is the minister for Environment lost to bitter rival Silas Muriuki, a veteran trade unionist and teacher. Mr Muriuki vied on Mazingira Green Party while Mr Mwiraria stood on PNU.

The minister stormed out of the counting hall at Meru school before the final results were announced.

Dr Kituyi lost to Ford Kenya’s Dr David Eseli Simiyu.

Prof Kibwana, one-term MP, lost the Makueni constituency to former Provincial Commissioner Peter Kiilu.

Prof Kibwana was one of President Kibaki’s pointman in Lower Eastern and vied on PNU ticket. Mr Kiilu won on an ODM-K ticket.

Mr Muturi, the outgoing Kanu chief whip and key ally to Kanu chairman Uhuru Kenyatta, lost to bitter rival Lenny Kivuti.

Defence minister Karume was defeated by his bitter rival Stanley Githunguri of Kanu in Kiambaa. Mr Githunguri of Kanu got 69,078 votes against Karume’s 14,304.

Mr Obwocha lost to former provincial medical officer of health, Dr James Gesami.

Mr Kombo lost to his veteran rival Alfred Sambu of ODM in a controversial election that saw the Local Government Minister’s protest the results arguing they were not free.

Mr Muite, a fiery politician who participated in fight for second liberation, was sent home by PNU candidate Lewis Nguyai.

Mr Ndile of TIP was whitewashed by Prof Philip Kaloki of ODM-K.

In Kilome, former MP Mutinda Mutiso failed to sustain the ODM-K wave as he was trounced by former anti-graft czar Harun Mwau.

The polls also saw the return of former powerful permanent secretary Zakayo Cheruiyot who bagged the Kuresoi seat.

Heritage minister Shakombo lost the Likoni seat to former Mombasa mayor Masoud Mwahima of ODM.

The politician got 17,859 votes against Mr Shakombo’s 7,324.
An excited Mwahima led his supporters in Mombasa streets.

With polls over, focus shifts to Parliament

Publication Date: 2007/12/29

The focus shifts to Parliament even as provisional results of the General Election continued to trickle in last evening.

Whichever presidential candidate finally wins has to-by now- be thinking of how to fortify his party’s strength in the august House so as to push through the agenda of his government.

Numbers count in Parliament.

It had by last night began becoming clear that the Tenth Parliament is likely to be dominated by members voted on tickets of the Orange Democratic Party, the Party of National Unity and ODM-Kenya.

However, there are a number of fringe parties whose candidates the tentative results had given their tickets to Parliament. They include Safina, Ford-Kenya, Sisi Kwa Sisi and PICK, among others.

Commodity markets

Political parties and presidential candidates had promised the public a raft of things they would do if they won the elections. The included free secondary education, enhanced security, civil service pay increase, 24-hour economy, new constitution, fairer distribution of public resources, employment, water, commodity markets, and so forth.

These are weighty undertakings that will require resources from the Treasury. Yet others will call for sessional papers and Bills whose passage through Parliament would demand numbers.

For example, any constitutional amendment requires the nod of at least 65 per cent of the 210 MPs. That translates to 145 MPs.

And in the event that either Mr Raila Odinga of ODM wins or Mr Mwai Kibaki recaptures the presidency, the provisional results indicate that none is likely to have more than 144 MPs.

It means that whoever forms the next government must seek support from the fringe parties. This goes in two ways, with different impacts.

One way is to co-opt members of the fringe parties into the cabinet. They would then be expected to reciprocate that by supporting government business in Parliament.

A similar strategy was used by President Kibaki when he introduced the Government of National Unity (GNU) in 2004 when a coalition partner, the Liberal Democratic Party walked out, claiming it had been short-changed.

Semblance of peace

That worked for the government, and it pushed through Parliament a number of Bills and lent it some semblance of peace to concentrate on its legislative and development agenda.

However, GNU became a a hydra whose members largely seemed not to have been reading from the same script. Ripples of discontent came to the fore when some GNU members put unique demands on President Kibaki’s table.

The schisms persisted even after Mr Kibaki cobbled the Party of National Unity. What was meant to be a single front to campaign for President Kibaki’s turned out to be an amalgam of regional political chiefs who only helped throw his campaigns into disorder. Again, some PNU members pulled out and receded to the cocoons of their parent political parties.

The other strategy the next government could use to shore up support for its Bills in Parliament is entering into one-off agreements with fringe parties whenever the need arises to push through its legislative agenda.

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