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Monday, 11 June, 2001, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Analysis: behind the Kenya reshuffle
Raila Odinga
Raila Odinga has been moving closer to Moi in recent years
By Joseph Warungu in Nairobi

Ever since he broke ranks with the rest of the opposition in Kenya and entered a co-operation agreement with the ruling Kanu party, in 1998, the leader of the National Development Party Raila Odinga has worked hard to cement relations with President Daniel arap Moi's government.

This campaign has taken the form of extensive tours in the country and the holding of joint rallies with the President. And now it is payback time.

President Moi
President Moi: One eye on 2002
For his unreserved support of Kanu within and outside parliament, Raila Odinga has been rewarded with a cabinet seat. He becomes the new Minister for Energy.

His NDP colleague Dr Adhu Awiti has been appointed Minister for Planning while two other opposition NDP Members of parliament, Peter Odoyo and Joshua Ojode are now assistant ministers.

It is the first time in Kenyan history that Kanu, which has been in power since independence in 1963, has made room in the government for opposition members.

Which raises the question of why President Moi is doing this now.

Elections

Quite apart from rewarding Raila Odinga's efforts in maintaining his party's co-operation with Kanu, observers see the move in the context of the search for President Moi's successor and the alignment of political forces in readiness for next year's general election.


Raila Odinga has been one of the key players behind moves to reform Kenya's constitution

Raila Odinga has been one of the key players behind moves to reform Kenya's constitution before the next elections. His preferred system of government is one that entails a non-executive President and a Prime Minister.

Raila does not say which of these posts he might want to go for but it is clear that if the Kanu-NDP partnership survives until next year and wins the general elections he will be looking forward to much more than a cabinet seat.

Tactics

Mr Moi no doubt shares the view of many here that given the nature of Kenya's highly ethnic based politics, no single party is likely to win an overall majority in next year's election.


The real test will come when the rest of opposition parties plan their strategy

He therefore needs the support of Raila's populous Luo community in western Kenya if his Kanu party is to retain power in the year 2002.

Raila and his NDP party stand to gain from Kanu's extensive grassroots network.

The success for this marriage rests on the formulation and adoption of a new constitution, but the real test will come when the rest of opposition parties plan their strategy in reaction to the NDP-Kanu power share.

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See also:

11 Jun 01 | Africa
President Moi's new cabinet
27 Nov 00 | Africa
Tackling Kenya's woes
29 Dec 97 | Kenyan elections
Kenya: candidates and issues
09 May 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Kenya
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