Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Kenyans divided about coming ballot in Tanzania

The general election scheduled to take place in Tanzania on Oct. 25 is driving a wedge into political life in next-door Kenya. President Uhuru Kenyatta and the opposition leader Raila Odinga have found another reason to battle one another as each backs a different candidate. Kenyatta support the Tanzanian challenger, Edward Lowassa of the Ukawa party, while Odinga would like to see the candidate of the ruling CCM party, John Magufuli, carry the day.

Odinga, who is a long-standing friend of Magufuli, hopes that if he wins he will make life hard for Kenyatta within the East African Community (EAC).

Odinga is hoping his popularity in the Kuria community in Kenya’s south-west will influence the kuria electorate in northern Tanzania to vote for Magufuli.

For his part, Kenyatta is trying to get businessmen to contribute financially to Lowassa’s electoral campaign. If he becomes president Kenya’s business community expects Tanzania to become more favorable to Kenya. Kenyatta has asked a number of political experts like Moses Kuria, Nancy Gitau and Joseph Maathai to lend a hand to Lowassa. After having come close to beating Mwai Kibaki in the December 2007 presidential election, Raila Odinga looks to be favourite to win the next one, the first round of which took place in March 2013. Son of historic opposition leader Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, he joined the opposition to the Daniel arap Moi regime but later rallied to it. His early political career was marked by imprisonment and exile and he fell only just short of election to Kenya’s supreme office in the 2007 election. The result of the election was widely contested and resulted in several months of inter-communal violence.

At the start of 2008, he was appointed prime minister at the head of a coalition government. He has taken up the mantle of his father and, with it, his political enmities: just like his father with the first Kenyan president, Jomo Kenyatta, Raila Odinga is engaged in a constant running battle with Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.

Although he followed in his father’s footsteps in going into politics and founding his own party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) in 2005, he is a self-made man where business is concerned. He has set up a number of companies: East African Spectre operates a factory producing gas canisters; Spectre International, which took over a decrepit state-controlled company, runs an ethanol-producing plant and Pan African Petroleum imports oil. With such prosperous companies under their control, Odinga and his wife figure among Kenya’s wealthiest citizens. Today, these businesses have become a family affair, with several members of the Odinga clan involved in running them.

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