13 Mar

Opposition Alliance in Kenya Seen ‘Dead’ as Odinga Breaks Ranks

Kenya’s main opposition alliance was cast into disarray after its leader Raila Odinga broke ranks and agreed to a truce with President Uhuru Kenyatta following a seven-month standoff over disputed elections.

Odinga said March 9 he was abandoning a defiance campaign aimed at toppling Kenyatta and will work with him on fostering national unity instead — an announcement that caught the other three main leaders of his National Super Alliance by surprise.

The ructions in the opposition will help Kenyatta consolidate power during his second and final term and are a boon for the ruling Jubilee Party as it gears up for the next elections in 2022.

“Nasa is now dead and its epitaph written,” thanks to Odinga’s decision to strike his own deal, said Peter Kagwanja, chief executive officer of the Africa Policy Institute, based in the capital, Nairobi. “The ideological discordance is clear and its leaders have fallen apart.”

The truce may be good news for East Africa’s largest economy, which has been weighed down by political uncertainty and violence that has cost dozens of lives. Growth slowed to an estimated 4.8 percent in 2017, from 5.8 percent a year earlier.

Founded in February last year, Nasa united Odinga’s Orange Democratic Party, Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Movement, Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress and Moses Wetang’ula’s Forum for the Restoration of Democracy-KenyaKemu.

Isaac Ruto’s Chama Cha Mashinani joined the alliance in April, but realigned itself to the ruling party five months later.

While Kenyatta, 56, was declared the winner of Aug. 8 presidential elections, Nasa rejected the results as rigged and the Supreme Court nullified the outcome.

Nasa then boycotted an Oct. 26 rerun, saying the shortcomings identified during the first vote hadn’t been addressed.

Kenyatta secured 98 percent support on much lower turnout and the court upheld his victory, which the opposition took to the streets to protest.

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