Africa Matters is a blog that follows the news and offers analysis of African affairs. Our aim is to delve deeper into the issues of African politics and development. We don’t presume to be experts, and we don’t presume to have all the answers—we are just trying to ask the right questions.

Thursday, October 4

Latest developments in Kenyan politics

Kibaki rejects corruption bill
With presidential elections scheduled for mid-December, national politics are heating up in Kenya. The latest action involves President Mwai Kibaki’s attempts to distance himself from corruption. Last week, President Kibaki, who hopes to secure a second term in upcoming elections, vetoed a parliamentary bill aimed at limiting the power of the Kenyan Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) to investigate high-profile corruption cases.

The proposed bill would have prevented the KACC from investigating cases of grand corruption occurring prior to 2003, effectively stopping investigations in all of the most notorious corruption cases.

President Kibaki has been widely criticized for being soft on corruption, and for his closeness to former president Daniel Arap Moi. In early September, Kibaki was embarrassed by a leaked report detailing how Moi’s family and government colleagues had stolen over US $2 billion in state funds. The report was released shortly after Moi announced that he backed Kibaki in the presidential race. In 2003, Kibaki’s government chose not to recover stolen assets traced by Kroll Associates, a company contracted by the government to identify stolen state assets, including assets held by Moi’s sons.

In addition to endorsing the bill to limit corruption investigations, Kenyan MPs recently voted to give themselves a hefty pay raise and an additional bonus of 1.5 million Kenyan shillings (US $92,000) when they leave office, making Kenyan politicians among the highest paid in the world.

Raila takes lead in opinion poll
According to an opinion poll published last Friday by the Steadman Group, President Kibaki has fallen behind opposition candidate Raila Amolo Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). The poll, which was released along with a disclaimer about the large number of undecided voters in Kenya, registered 47 percent support for Raila and 38 percent for Kibaki.

This is only the second time that Kibaki has not led an opinion poll since the 2002 campaign. After loosing the battle for a constitutional referendum in 2005, Kibaki briefly fell behind Kalonzo Musyoka. Musyoka, who was once the leading opposition candidate, received only 8 percent support in the most recent poll.

Kibaki announced at a rally in Nairobi last Saturday that elections could be held as soon as two months from now.

Meanwhile, Kalonzo Musyoka’s party, ODM-Kenya, and the Orange Democratic Movement are fighting over exclusive rights to the symbol used by both parties: the orange. ODM-Kenya split from ODM in August, and now is requesting that the Electoral Commission grant them exclusive access to the orange symbol. ODM claims it was the first to register use of the orange.