01 * Launch of the CORD Manifesto – Kenya Elections 2013
From the foot soldier’s perspective: The Kenyan elections 2013 from an election observer’s viewpoint.
Chapter 1: Launch of the CORD Manifesto
Every elections afresh, Kenyan politicians manage to bring the country on the edge of a civil war. What should be a celebration of civilization, the utmost exercise of democratic decision making, is in Kenya being turned into an experience of hardship for the ordinary people.
I started to observe the election process roughly one month ahead of the official day of the elections, 4th March 2013. Due to time constraints, I decided to follow only one of the two most promising candidates -Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta- for the Presidency. I decided to follow the candidate who was at that time behind in the polls, the underdog.
A check in the newspapers showed me that at that time, this was Raila Odinga, as much as there were actually huge differences in the predictions of the polls.
Raila Odinga – the underdog and the rebel. That would fit. The man had actually a life story and a half. Being the heir to the Luo dynasty of Jaramogi Odinga, who was referred to as ‘Ker’ by his tribe the Luo – the title of the feudal King of the Luo’s, Raila inherited the leadership of the Luo people and the prominent place in Kenya from his dad. It was as history made a full circle: Jaramogi, one of the founding fathers of Kenya, fell out with Jomo Kenyatta after independence and was thrown into agony by the same. Now the battle would be between their sons.
As party names and loyalties can change frequently in Kenya, for the 2013 elections Raila headed the ‘Coalition for Reforms and Democracy'(CORD). CORD was a coalition of multiple political parties, built around the triumvirate of Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula. CORD was made up of 14 parties: Orange Democratic Movement, Wiper Democratic Movement, FORD-Kenya, Kenya Social Congress, The Independent Party, KADDU-Asili, Peoples Democratic Party, Mkenya Solidarity Movement, Chama Cha Uzalendo, Muungano Development Movement Party of Kenya, United Democratic Movement, Chama Cha Mwananchi, Federal Party of Kenya, Labour Party of Kenya.
I started my task at the Launching of the CORD Manifesto at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC), which housed till 2003 the KANU Headquarters. In their Manifesto, CORD described how they would steer Kenya to higher heights if they would win the elections. As much as it might sound odd for a political party to launch their programme one month ahead of the elections, CORD itself also was just formed roughly one month before, at the end of December 2012.
It’s another characteristic of Kenyan politics, to form alliances almost up to the actual elections, usually based on power play calculations by the individual politicians leading a party. Next to launching their political programme, it was therefore also a bonding session, meant to instil some kind of unity into its members from very diverse backgrounds.
It was the last public event of CORD before Raila should receive his official clearance from the Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to be allowed to run for the Presidency of Kenya, the so called ‘Presidential Nomination’.