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KENYA – NASA, we have a problem

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Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga / AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA

As was generally expected, the National Super Alliance (Nasa) of last year’s presidential hopeful Raila Odinga looks set to collapse.

On Thursday, March 8, the Daily Nation reported that the secretary general of alliance partner the Amani National Congress (ANC), Barrack Muluka, stated that Mr Odinga had “fooled” his co-principals in order to be sworn in as ‘the people’s president’ alone at the end of January.

Meanwhile, on February 26 the deputy leader of the Wiper Democratic Movement, Farah Maalim, reportedly said on a popular morning television show that the alliance was “dead as a dodo” and Mr Odinga should retire.

Mr Odinga’s running mate, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, had promised to take an oath to become ‘the people’s deputy president’, but the day many expected him to take the plunge (February 28) passed uneventfully. Wiper is set to meet on March 16 to plan its future; it will likely formally announce its departure from the alliance.

On Tuesday, March 6, the leaders of the alliance parties (Messrs Odinga, Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi of ANC, and Moses Wetangula of Ford-Kenya) held a summit and issued a statement that reiterated their commitment to ‘electoral justice’.

However, the statement lacked the fire of the rhetoric of January and made no mention of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), People’s Assemblies or of Mr Odinga being the rightful people’s president. It did not call for fresh elections or even characterise President Uhuru Kenyatta as illegitimate.

“…Nasa remains committed to dialogue in the interest of the nation but remains cognisant of the fact that Kenyans [are] running out of patience and the window is slowly closing”, the statement reads.

This threat of a mass of angry supporters running out of patience has since the first election of last year in August was annulled been the only card the alliance has had to play. But the ability to rouse that anger has waned and with it all the opposition’s power.

It stated that there will be no election in 2022 unless the issues of 2017 are addressed, but not even Mr Odinga, a master at rousing support, could make the prospect of boycotting an election four years hence sound like a rallying cry.

It appears to be the end of the road for Nasa and the end of another tumultuous election cycle for the country.

As the graphs show, 2017 saw protests around its elections on the scale of 2007/08 but the number of fatalities recorded during the period (either during protests or violence against unarmed civilians), though still unacceptably high, was far from 2007/08’s levels.

Already, politicians are looking toward 2022 and those in Nasa will want to free themselves from the bonds formed for the last election and distance themselves from Mr Odinga so as to set themselves up for new alliances and a shot at the brass ring.

Ideally, the intervening four years will instead see the emergence of a national opposition party rather than another alliance of ethnic ‘big men’.

Failing that, we can probably expect 2022 to bring another round of ethnic mobilisation and heightened tensions.


In this article:
NASARaila Odinga
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