Kenyan opposition forms alliance in unity bid before August election

Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:12pm GMT
 

By Humphrey Malalo and George Obulutsa

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenyan opposition political parties announced an alliance on Wednesday to fight the August presidential and parliamentary elections against President Uhuru Kenyatta's coalition.

Kenyatta, 55, is seeking a second and final term after winning the 2013 race against veteran politician Raila Odinga, 72, whose Orange Democratic Movement is one of the five main opposition parties uniting.

The test will be whether the new coalition can agree on a single candidate before the vote without splintering.

Kenyatta's presidency has seen the economy grow at a steady 5 to 6 percent a year, but has faced headwinds from a spate of Islamist militant attacks that have killed hundreds of people. He has faced criticism for not doing more to tackle corruption.

Some opinion polls have suggested Kenyatta is ahead, although it is yet to be confirmed who his main rival will be. However, voting in Kenya in the past has tended to be driven by tribal loyalties rather than policy.

Odinga, who has lost three elections, wants to run again but is facing challenges from others in the opposition alliance. He disputed the results of the last vote in 2013 and the election in 2007, which was followed by weeks of ethnic violence in which about 1,200 people died.

The build-up to this year's vote has already been marred by clashes between protesters and police, sparked by a row over who sits on a committee overseeing elections. At least four people died in the violence.

The government agreed to change the commissioners, whom the opposition accused of bias. New members are now being appointed.   Continued...

Kenyan opposition leader of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), Raila Odinga, and KANU Secretary General Nick Salat attend celebrations to mark Kenya's Madaraka Day, the 53rd anniversary of the country's self rule, at Uhuru Park grounds in Nairobi, Kenya, June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
 
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