Kenya politics: Quick View – Four opposition parties form a united front

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Economist Intelligence Unit
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Politics, News Analysis
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Four opposition parties, at a summit on January 11th, announced the formation of a new broad-based partnership, the National Super Alliance (Nasa), in a bid to unseat the ruling Jubilee party in elections scheduled for August 8th.


Three of the parties-the Orange Democratic Movement (under Raila Odinga), the Wiper Democratic Movement (under Kalonzo Musyoka) and Ford-Kenya (under Moses Wetangula)-are already allied within the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), formed in the run-up to the 2013 elections. In the event, Jubilee's Uhuru Kenyatta beat CORD's Mr Odinga in the presidential contest by a 50.1% to 43.3% margin and Jubilee became the largest parliamentary party, albeit without an overall majority.

The main difference between CORD and Nasa is the addition of the Amani National Congress (ANC; under Musalia Mudavadi), which potentially marks a significant step forward for opposition unity. The ANC, which won 24 seats in the 349-seat National Assembly in 2013, gave informal backing to Jubilee after the ballot, thereby handing the ruling party a majority, and Mr Mudavadi came third in the presidential ballot with a 3.9% share, which split the opposition vote. In addition, the two main representatives of the Luhya ethnic group-Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetangula-are now in theory united. Alongside Mr Odinga (a Luo) and Mr Musyoka (a Kamba), this gives Nasa a strong support base in western and eastern Kenya, to help to counter Jubilee's dominance in central areas. The former ruling party, the Kenya National Africa Union, may also join Nasa.

Nasa's creation marks the opposition's response to last year's formation of a single Jubilee Party by the main components of the Jubilee Coalition, although Nasa remains a coalition, not a unified entity, leaving it vulnerable to fracturing. In particular, the upcoming selection of a single presidential candidate (and single parliamentary and governor candidates) will provide a stiff test of unity. Nonetheless, the agreement to work together is buoying opposition hopes after new amendments to electoral laws, pushed through parliament by Jubilee in December and January, dented their cause. Nasa will now focus on a fresh voter registration exercise instead of staging protests, which have been suspended for 30 days pending a court ruling on the new regulations.

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