11 February 2013

Kenya: Tribal Arithmetic Haunts Uhuru, Raila At Debate

Presidential candidates; Peter Kenneth (Eagle), Uhuru Kenyatta (Jubilee), Musalia Mudavadi (Amani), Martha Karua (Narc Kenya), Prof James ole ... ( Resource: Kenya's First Ever Presidential Debate

Jubilee presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) were put on the spot to explain why their alliances were focussed on a tribal arithmetic.

The two were asked to inform Kenyans how they were fighting tribalism yet they have been accused of basing their support on tribes during campaigns.

In defence, Kenyatta said Jubilee was focusing on issues and was traversing all parts of the country to sell the policies of the alliance without discriminating any tribe.

"We have been campaigning in different parts of the country. We are conducting a national campaign aimed at bringing Kenyans together with forming a government that will be all inclusive and address issues affecting Kenyans," he explained.

He said political analysts should take the blame for creating numbers based on tribes which was not a focus of the Jubilee Alliance.

Odinga also distanced himself from being tribal and said people are joining CORD for a common goal.

"It is a coalition of the willing. Nowhere had we ever talked about 41 plus one tribe. The Orange Democratic Movement was a national movement. In 2002 we came together and decided to rally behind one person and that is why I supported President Kibaki. People said Luos could not vote for a Kikuyu and I said the Kikuyus are Kenyans," he recalled.

Amani Coalition leader Musalia Mudavadi also defended himself and explained that he supported Kenyatta in 2002 and Odinga in 2007 and that he should be the last person to be linked to tribalism.

NARC Kenya's Martha Karua lashed out at her opponents and other politicians saying that in most cases they had failed to accept they were tribal which made it difficult to address the vice that is blamed for hatred among communities in Kenya.

Her remarks were echoed by Kenya National Congress party presidential aspirant Peter Kenneth and Restore and Build Kenya's James ole Kiyiapi who said presidential aspirants should accept the reality that tribalism has been ailing Kenyans.

However, the eight presidential candidates including Paul Muite, James ole Kiyiapi and Mohamed Dida admitted that negative ethnicity thrived deep in the Kenyan society and made pledges to deal with it if elected as president in next month's general election.

They linked it to a battle for resources, poverty and lack of proper leadership and said that full implementation of the Constitution will be the answer to tribalism.

Devolution of resources to ensure equitable distribution across the country was the assurance given by the eight presidential candidates in their quest to address tribalism.

According to analysts, the manner in which they handled the tribalism issue pronounced a double-speak. The analysts accused them of 'burying their heads' and also pretending not to be tribal.

The analysts said it was clear that during election time, most Kenyans identify themselves and the candidates they support based on their tribes.

-Kenyatta, Odinga 'friends'-

Meanwhile, Odinga and Kenyatta said they have no personal differences despite perceptions that their hatred originated from the rivalry between their late fathers Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

"I have no differences with Odinga. I see him as a colleague... I see him as a brother but we may differ on how to handle some of the issues that face this country so that's why we have elections so that people of Kenya can be given an opportunity to choose leaders," Kenyatta explained.

"I totally agree with my brother Kenyatta. We have nothing personal between us, in fact we are best of friends," Odinga asserted as he recounted that they voted on the same side during the 2005 constitution referendum.

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