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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 January 2007, 15:51 GMT
Gloomy outlook for Kenyans in election year
By Gray Phombeah
BBC News, Nairobi

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki
Donors feel President Kibaki is not fighting graft
Mwai Kibaki was sworn in four years ago as the third president of Kenya, riding on a cocktail of euphoria, pride and relief.

He was swept to power promising so much to a nation emerging from rising poverty and personal greed.

But now, that initial joy has been replaced by anger and resentment.

It is not difficult to see why.

High-level corruption and nepotism scandals have continued, the tribalism that has dogged Kenya's post-independence history has been rearing its head again and the coalition that brought Mr Kibaki to power has dissolved into factions.

Western goodwill has also dissipated as hopes that Kenya would be an example of good governance in the East African region have been dashed.


Tony Gachoki, a former journalist turned politician, was one of those who dreamt of a new start, but now believes the dream is all over.

Anti-constitution campaigner
Many people have joined the new opposition "Orange" coalition

"The government has not only shied away from fighting corruption, it has in effect chased away the corruption czar John Githongo who's enduring a bitter time in Britain," say Mr Gachoki.

"We've got the problem of rising unemployment and rising crime in the country."

This is a sharp reversal of fortunes for President Kibaki who now faces an uphill task in his bid for a second term in office.

So what's the outlook for 2007 - an election year for Kenya?

"I expect this year to be a volatile year in the sense of political rivalry, political alignment, political re-alignment," says Ludeki Chweya, a lecturer in political science at the university of Nairobi.

"What seems to matter most is not the parties, it's who are the presidential candidates. Ethnic identities are still stronger - there is no party that will ignore that factor."


For Kibaki supporters, not all is lost, and they believe that he will be able to shrug off the tide of disenchantment and have a stab at re-election, on the ticket of a new party tailored for him.

Raila Odinga intends to run for president in 2007
Raila Odinga intends to run for president in 2007

"Part of the dream was to remove the (former President Daniel arap) Moi dictatorship from power and I think we succeeded," says Koigi wa Wamwere, assistant minister for information and Mr Kibaki's staunch supporter.

"Kenya was in a terrible state - the system had collapsed at all levels, and I think the biggest achievement has been the revival of the system and the economy. Kenya has a government that has shown that our new democracy is here to stay."

At the same time, Mr Kibaki, who now enjoys a new political alliance, could be aided by the seemingly uncontrollable ambitions of opposition leaders like Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta and Kalonzo Musyoka.


"If the opposition does not unite, that will make President Kibaki's bid for re-election extremely easy," says Amboka Andere, a media consultant in Nairobi.

"If the opposition unite, we should expect a fiercely contested election and it's bound to be fairly close because of the tribalism factor coming into play."

Even without a divided opposition, Mr Kibaki would still have to regain a lot of lost goodwill among ordinary Kenyans.

A string of promises that stirred euphoria back in 2002 have been unfulfilled. They include rooting out graft and rewriting Kenya's out-of-date constitution in 100 days, issues which remain close to the hearts of many Kenyans.

There is also the issue of Mr Kibaki's image.

In a nation where virility and strength is valued highly in leaders, Kenyans see Mr Kibaki's age and lack of dynamism and his reputation for indecisiveness as a weakness.

It might require a major political makeover to overcome that.

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