December 21, 2007

NOW THAT'S THROWIN' YOUR HAT IN THE RING:

Kenya's presidential race signals democratic growth (Jeffrey Gettleman, December 21, 2007, IHT)

The neck-and-neck race between Odinga and Kibaki, which could result in a run-off, seems to be evidence of how far Kenya's democracy has come from just a decade ago, when it was still under the grip of Moi, who has been widely criticized as a dictator and who is now campaigning for Kibaki.

Today there is a free press, 2,548 candidates running for Parliament and genuine issues separating the leading parties, like strong central government versus federalism. Electoral politics here are not saddled by the deep cynicism that dogs Nigeria, Africa's most populous democracy, or the one-party domination of South African politics.

Odinga, who has been a member of Parliament for the past 15 years, has taken full advantage of Kenya's open system and used his flair for appealing to the masses to reel in millions of Kenyans who feel marginalized by the Kikuyu elite. He has also charmed many Muslims upset at the Kibaki government's various crackdowns in Muslim areas as part of its counterterrorism campaign.

"The best way to explain this is not who is popular but who is so unpopular," said Chweya Ludeki, a political science professor at the University of Nairobi. "Raila's harvesting from Kibaki's unpopularity and the perception that the president has favored his ethnic group."

Though the cabinet includes members of many tribes, the ministries that matter - like defense, justice, finance and internal security - are all run by Kikuyus. The government's response has been that it hires the most qualified people.

Many of Odinga's supporters are worried that these politicians might try to steal the election. Already the government's own human rights commission accused Kibaki's party of using public resources, like government planes and vehicles, for campaign events.

There have also been some pretty nasty cheap shots. Even Odinga's foreskin was thrown into the fray.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 21, 2007 9:13 PM
Comments

The linked story tells us that this Odinga chap, who had been a Comsymp educated in the FORMER EAST GERMANY, was so left-wing that he used to play the left-wing position in soccer. How did oj ever miss that one!

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 21, 2007 11:21 PM

Soccer has 11 left wings.

Posted by: oj at December 22, 2007 9:07 AM
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