4 Declarations That Changed Kenya’s Politics Forever

  • A collage image of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto addressing a rally in Afraha Stadium in 2017 (Left) and former Prime Minister addressing a rally at Uhuru Park (Right).
    A collage image of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto addressing a rally in Afraha Stadium in 2017 (Left) and former Prime Minister addressing a rally at Uhuru Park (Right).
    File
  • Every five years, Kenyans go to the ballot to elect political leaders charged with the mandate of steering development and economic advancements in the country.

    In every election cycle, new political parties, alliances, and declarations are made. But what are the most memorable declarations that have shaped the country’s political course over the years?

    The Kamukunji Declaration

    One of the frontrunners in this year’s presidential election is former Prime Minister and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Raila Odinga. He will square it out with his once closest ally turned foe, Deputy President William Ruto.

    Raila - who will be making a fifth stab at the presidency - served as a Member of Parliament for Kibera Constituency.

    It is a constituency he holds very dear to him. One may be perplexed why this is the case bearing in mind that it is home to the largest informal settlements probably in the whole of East and Central Africa.

    ODM party leader Raila Odinga and Wiper's Kalonzo Musyoka shake hands after Kalonzo endorsed him for the presidency at Jacaranda Grounds on Saturday, March 12, 2022
    ODM party leader Raila Odinga and Wiper's Kalonzo Musyoka shake hands after Kalonzo endorsed him for the presidency at Jacaranda Grounds on Saturday, March 12, 2022.
    Twitter
    Kalonzo Musyoka

    In 2002, Raila and his then Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) teamed up with other opposition parties including Mwai Kibaki’s Democratic Party (DP) to remove KANU from the country’s top seat, a position it had held for 40 years.

    In 2005, Kibaki and Raila fell out following the defeat of The Bomas Draft in a referendum. Raila had teamed with the opposition KANU to defeat the constitutional reforms that were being led by Kibaki. The Head of State would then go ahead to sack Raila and his allies from the government.

    The agitated Raila made it clear that he would settle for nothing short of the presidency in the next election which was two years away. In 2007, Raila formed the famous Pentagon - a powerhouse of seasoned politicians to lead his presidential campaigns.

    It was at the Kamukunji Grounds that the former Prime Minister officially made the declaration that officiated his race to State House. When the country voted on December 27, 2007, Raila, despite commanding an early lead in the preliminary results and winning the majority of seats in the National Assembly, lost the presidential vote to Kibaki.

    Dissatisfied with the decision of the then Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) under the leadership of the late Samuel Kivuitu, Raila disputed the results, with his supporters clashing with those of Kibaki in what came to be one of the country’s bloodiest post-election violence.

    1,300 people died and over half a million others were displaced.

    After protracted push and pulls and through a mediation that was led by former United Nations Secretary-General, the late Koffi Anan, and the late Tanzania President, Benjamin Mkapa, Kibaki and Raila entered a pact to form the Grand Coalition Government in which the latter became the Prime Minister.

    After serving for five years and when Kibaki’s term was coming to an end in 2013, Raila returned to Kamukunji Grounds where he announced his presidential ambitions. This was the third time - having run in 1997 and 2007. 

    Retired President Mwai Kibaki with ODM leader Raila Odinga and Wiper's Kalonzo Musyoka during his swearing in
    Retired President Mwai Kibaki with ODM leader Raila Odinga and Wiper's Kalonzo Musyoka during his swearing in
    The Standard

    He would later in March be defeated by Uhuru Kenyatta but again disputed the poll results. The Supreme Court under the leadership of Chief Justice (rtd) Willy Munywoki Mutunga, threw out his petition.

    In 2017, he made another declaration at the same Kamukunji Ground, this time vowing to defeat Uhuru and his deputy, William Ruto, who were seeking re-election.

    His hope of delivering victory was not successful yet again. He would again challenge the results at the Supreme Court. The Apex court led by Chief Justice (Rtd) David Kenani Maraga, annulled the results of the August 8, 2017, presidential election and called for a fresh vote in 60 days. 

    Raila returned to Kamukunji Grounds and gave conditions for him to participate in the repeat election. One of the conditions - which he repeated in the Uhuru Park rallies - was to have the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) reformed and the servers used by the electoral body opened for scrutiny.

    This year, it is a wait-and-see situation on whether he will head to the same grounds to make yet another declaration.

    The Kapkatet Declaration

    According to the 2019 Census Population, the Kalenjin community - arguably the largest in the Rift Valley region of Kenya - comprises 11 related sub-tribes. These are the Kipsigis, Nadi, Keiyo, Marakwet, Sabaot, Pokot, Tugen, Terik, Sengwer, Lembus and Ogiek.

    Every political year, the elders from these tribes hold dear their tradition of installing a regional kingpin and making their pronouncements on their presidential candidate of choice.

    The Kapkatet Stadium is located at the heart of Kericho County - one of the most centrally located counties of the Rift Valley province. 

    For the likes of Kibaki, Raila, and Ruto, the word Kapkatet reminds them of the 2007 elections and the chaos that followed thereafter. It is on these grounds that the Kalenjin elders made a resolution to back Raila in his quest for the presidency.

    Raila and Ruto were members of then newly formed Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and the lead members of the Pentagon which also had seasoned politicians like Tourism Cabinet Secretary, Najib Balala, and former Cooperatives Minister Joseph Nyagah.

     Name An image of Deputy President William Ruto at the Thika Stadium on Sunday, March 13
    An image of Deputy President William Ruto at the Thika Stadium on Sunday, March 13
    William Ruto

    After the unanimous decision by the Kalenjin community to back Raila, the community would go on to overwhelmingly vote for him in the December 27, 2007 election. He, however, lost to Kibaki.

    In their 2017 re-election drive, Kenyatta and Ruto chose the Kapkatet grounds as the place for their final rally. This is where they announced the solidification of their union in search of a second term.

    The Afraha Declaration

    Following the chaos that resulted from the disputed 2007 elections, the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched investigations, and six Kenyans including Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, Amb. Francis Muthaura, Henry Kosgey, Maj Gen (Rtd) Hussein Ali, and journalist Joshua Arap Sang were indicted over their alleged roles in the violence.

    They would later be christened the Ocampo Six since their case was being handled by the then ICC Prosecutor, Moreno Ocampo.

    Singer Juliani would also release a song, Bahasha ya Ocampo. As the cases proceeded, Amb Muthaura, Kosgey and Ali would be cleared over their involvement in the post-election violence. 

    Kenyatta, Ruto, and Sang continued with their cases, regularly attending court sessions at the Hague in the Netherlands.

    In 2013, when the cases against the three were at a climax. Kenyatta and Ruto, facing similar predicaments and without knowing what the future portended, joined hands and agreed to front one of them as a presidential candidate.

    Kenyans were divided on whether the two should be allowed to run with the constitutional court ruling that the two were free to run since they had not been convicted.

    Political pundits called the alliance between the two a Marriage of Convenience since they were brought together by their cases at the ICC.

    At this time, Kenyatta was the Deputy Prime Minister and Gatundu South Legislator while Ruto was the Eldoret North Member of Parliament.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta (in red tie) with his Deputy William Ruto during the 2013 elections campaigns
    President Uhuru Kenyatta (in red tie) with his Deputy William Ruto during the 2013 elections campaigns
    File

    On December 2, 2012, Kenyatta’s The National Alliance (TNA) and Ruto’s United Republican Party (URP) held a mega rally at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru where they announced the formation of the Jubilee Coalition whose presidential candidate was Kenyatta and Ruto his running mate.

    Kitui Governor Charity Kaluki Ngilu’s National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala’s Republican Congress Party (RC) would also join the Jubilee Coalition, which went on to win the March 4, 2013, presidential election.

    The Uhuru Park Declaration

    In 2002, the clamour for change in the country was so pronounced to an extent of rivalling opposition parties joining hands to end KANU’s 40 years of terror, brutality, and economic run down. 

    It was a time that Kenyans wanted the President, Daniel Moi, out of the country’s helm after serving for 24 years.

    Kibaki, who had served as the country’s Vice President for ten years (1978 - 1988) and Finance Minister for 12 years (1969 - 1981), was the best-placed politician to become the opposition’s flagbearer.

    He entered into an agreement with Raila of then LDP, and the late Kijana Wamalwa of Ford Kenya among other top-ranking politicians who were tired of Moi’s regime.

    Opposition leader Raila Odinga gestures before his swearing in as the people's president on January 30, 2018 at Uhuru Park Nairobi.
    Opposition leader Raila Odinga gestures before his swearing-in as the people's president on January 30, 2018, at Uhuru Park Nairobi.
    File

    On October 14, 2002, just four days after the country marked Moi Day, the opposition brigade led by Kibaki held a mega rally at the Uhuru Park Grounds. It is here that Raila - one of the country’s first campaigners and political mobilisers - made the famous Kibaki Tosha declaration. 

    Political pundits opine that this declaration is what catapulted Kibaki to the presidency.

    In 2017, Raila - after boycotting the repeat election that was won by Kenyatta - would also rally his supporters to converge at the same Uhuru Park gardens. Here, he asked them to boycott a number of products that were mostly from companies linked to the Kenyatta family or companies that worked with the IEBC.

    Raila argued that those companies played a role in aiding the stealing of his victory.

    died steal violence