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Political scene hots up ahead of polls

Kenya's election campaigns began in earnest this week, as political parties started selecting their presidential contenders for general elections slated for December.

The ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) party on Monday set the pace and selected its presidential contender, following weeks of uncertainty and a rift caused by controversy over the nomination process.

The party endorsed Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's first president Jomo Kenyatta. Outgoing President Daniel arap Moi, who is constitutionally barred from standing again for election, has been actively campaigning for Uhuru as his preferred successor, despite protests by a KANU splinter group.

The Rainbow Alliance, as the splinter group is known, on Monday quit KANU and joined forces with other opposition political parties.

The alliance, led by former cabinet ministers Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Moody Awori, and former vice president George Saitoti teamed up with former finance minister Simeon Nyachae's 'People's Coalition' group of parties, and the National Alliance of Kenya (NAK) to form a formidable opposition alliance, dubbed the National Rainbow Coalition (NRC).

The move to form one opposition alliance means that KANU is likely to face a single opposition candidate in the presidential election.

A regional analyst told IRIN on Tuesday that a united opposition was likely to win the elections by a wide margin, but he did not rule out rigging in favour of the KANU candidate.

"KANU has suffered a big blow," political analyst Philip Kichana said. "The opposition alliance is getting too big. KANU might use money to buy people from the opposition. It will try to get it to split."

"Kenyans do not trust KANU to deliver any more. The opposition can win if they introduce the issue of trust," he added.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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