Kenya politics: Quick View - Opposition alliance names presidential candidate

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Economist Intelligence Unit
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A deal unveiled on April 27th between opposition parties in the National Super Alliance (Nasa) will see Raila Odinga stand as their presidential candidate in the August election, with Kalonzo Musyoka as his running mate.


The opposition line-up in 2017 will therefore be the same as in 2013, when Mr Odinga (leader of the Orange Democratic Movement) and Mr Musyoka (leader of the Wiper Democratic Movement) lost the presidential election to Uhuru Kenyatta (and his running mate, William Ruto), representing the Jubilee coalition, by a 50.5% to 43.7% margin. However, Nasa is a broader alliance than its 2013 predecessor (the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy), especially given the inclusion of Musalia Mudavadi (leader of the Amani National Congress), who captured 3.9% of the presidential vote in 2013, but whose party then backed Jubilee in parliament. Other key Nasa figures are Moses Wetangula (leader of Ford-Kenya) and Isaac Ruto (leader of Chama Cha Mashinani), who is another new addition to the opposition alliance.

The decision about which pairing of leaders would contest the presidency has preoccupied Nasa since launching in January, amid predictions that bickering would see the alliance crumble. Nonetheless, after lengthy negotiations and compromises, the leaders found a mutually acceptable formula. Mr Odinga, if elected, would serve a single five-year term as president (with Mr Musyoka as his deputy); Mr Mudavadi would gain the new title of premier cabinet secretary (a de facto prime minister), and the other two principals would serve as deputy-premier secretaries, provided the arrangement passes constitutional muster. In addition, the entire deal will be treated as a legal contract, rather than an informal agreement.

The broader opposition alliance will boost Nasa's prospects in August, although Jubilee is similarly more united than in 2013, after formally merging into a single party in 2016. Nasa hopes to benefit from popular concerns about a current economic slowdown, and especially higher inflation, while Jubilee will seek political advantage from the pending start of a new standard-gauge railway between Mombasa and Nairobi in June. A close election is in prospect, which heightens the risk of disputes and violence, although the chaotic scenes witnessed during Jubilee's and Nasa's candidate selection process will not necessarily be repeated.

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