By Stan Oyunga (

The winner of any free and fair elections in most African countries depends on certain parameters such as Ethnic group block voting, political parties/coalitions and voter turn-out. The ruling party/coalition usually emerges the winner due to the influence of the incumbency but recent elections in Zambia, Malawi and Nigeria has shown that this is not always the case, when the election is deemed to be free and fair.
Since 2002, the two party/coalition system (two horse race) has been evident in Kenya and has worked well except for the disastrous 2007 Presidential elections. There is a clear pattern in Ethnic block voting and coalition politics that has created coalition strongholds since no single ethnic group has the numbers to produce a winning Presidential candidate.
Orange Democratic Party (ODM) leader and co-Principal in the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), Raila Amolo Odinga is believed to be holding talks with Amani National Congress (ANC) party leader, Musalia Mudavadi in order to lure him to join CORD and even let him became the coalition’s Presidential candidate in 2017. But why Mudavadi, who finished a poor third in the 2013 elections with only 3.93% of the national vote?


Raila is slowly realising that in order to dislodge the Jubilee Coalition from power, he needs to change his game plan even if it means stepping down for another candidate. After three presidential election attempts in 1997, 2007 (which he probably won) and 2013, and age catching up with him, Raila has decided that to catch Jubilee off-guard and present another flag-bearer, especially after ODM’s Western region stronghold was coming under threat, especially with the recent resignation of ODM Secretary-General Ababu Namwamba. If his choice is Mudavadi then it would not be a surprise since he was Raila’s deputy in ODM until 2012 when they had a falling out and Mudavadi joined the United Democratic Front Party (UDF) in order to contest the 2013 elections. Some State House operatives who feared a Raila presidency in 2013 to replace incumbent Mwai Kibaki, were leaning towards Mudavadi as a successor to Kibaki. Even Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, who had both been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague and had joined forces to form the Jubilee Coalition in 2012 were briefly convinced to let Mudavadi to be their Presidential candidate. They even signed an agreement to this effect until Uhuru came under pressure to back-out in the infamous “the devil made me do it” incident that left Mudavadi high and dry.
Hence Mudavadi has always been viewed a compromise candidate due to his non-confrontational politics. His Quaker up bringing may be responsible since Quakers are known for their honesty and respected worldwide for their pacifisms, strict adherence to speaking the truth at all times and do not swear oaths, have aversion to war and violence, plain dressing and plain speaking. Due to poor decision making, Mudavadi has been viewed as a loser in the past. In 2002, he decided to back former President Daniel arap Moi’s choice of Uhuru Kenyatta as his successor and was appointed Vice-President to replace Prof George Saitoti. Uhuru was defeated by Mwai Kibaki of the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) in the 2002 Presidential elections, hence ending KANU’s 40 years as Kenya’s ruling party. Mudavadi lost his Sabatia parliamentary seat and made history as the shortest serving Vice-President in Kenya’s history (2 months). His decision to leave ODM in 2012, where he was Deputy Party Leader, and standing as a Presidential candidate in the 2013 elections, even when it was clear he had no chance of winning is another case of his poor decision making. He even briefly became the Presidential candidate for the Jubilee Coalition.
Once again, Wycliffe Musalia Mudavadi is being considered as a compromise candidate to face Uhuru Kenyatta in the August 8th Presidential Elections hoping to become the 5th President of Kenya. Is Raila Odinga, always the king maker and may be destined to become like Moses, who never entered the Promised Land, about to say “Mudavadi tosha”?


The Luhya ethnic group is the second largest in Kenya with a population of 5.3 million (13.8%) according to the 2009 census, only the Kikuyu is larger with 6.6 million (17.15%). It is projected to have a population of 6.6 million in 2017 and voter potential of 2.6 million. The Luhya has often voted for different Presidential candidates in past Presidential elections, even when the candidate is a Luhya, e.g. Michael Kijana Wamalwa in 1997. The only time they have voted as a block is in the 2002 Presidential elections for NARC when Mwai Kibaki stood against KANU’s Uhuru Kenyatta. Wamalwa was designated to be Kibaki’s Vice-President hence most of the Luhya votes went to Narc despite KANU having a Luhya as a sitting Vice-President at that time (Mudavadi).
Raila’s possible choice of Mudavadi is designed to lock the huge Luhya voting block (estimated at 2.6 million) in CORD and prevent any further in-roads by Jubilee into Western Region. It is a risky strategy since it will make Mudavadi like the “Prodigal Son” in the Bible (Luke 15:11-32), who was welcomed by his father back home with lavish celebration, despite protestation by the older son.
The other CORD co-principals, Moses Wetengula of the FORD-Kenya and Kalonzo Musyoka of Wiper Democratic Movement-Kenya who both plan to vie with Raila to be the CORD presidential flag-bearer may not be happy unless Raila can convince them to accept Mudavadi, just as he has sacrificed his last chance to be President of Kenya. If they accept then Kalonzo will have to be Mudavadi’s running mate, while Wetangula may be given a powerful post such as Leader of Majority or Speaker of the National Assembly (3rd in line in succession for President).
Wetangula may have no choice since a Luhya presidential candidate will lock up almost the entire Luhya voting block and even defecting to the new Jubilee Party will not be possible as would mean having to dissolve his FORD-Kenya party just as New Ford Kenya did in June, 2016, unless Jubilee Party signs a pre-election Coalition agreement with FORD-Kenya. Kalonzo can make a decision to defect to Jubilee, but again it would mean dissolving his Wiper party, which is very unlikely as Kenyans still blame him for the 2007 fall-out with Raila when a united ODM had enough votes to assure Raila an outright win against Mwai Kibaki. There is no guarantee of Kalonzo ever being running mate to Ruto in 2022, hence being running mate in 2017 to Mudavadi is the better option. He may just have to forgo any MOU he signed with Raila in 2013 as his Kamba ethnic group will have 1.9 million potential voters in 2017, which is the 5th largest in Kenya but smaller than the Luhya’s 2.6 million.
Despite the defunct New Ford Kenya party merging with Jubilee and its leaders getting parastatal and diplomatic jobs, it only has part of the support of the Bukusu sub-ethnic group found in Bungoma and Trans-Nzoia Counties. Most of the Bukusu still support FORD-Kenya which is part of the CORD coalition, and more so if the Presidential candidate is a Luhya. Jubilee Party candidates in Bungoma and Trans Nzoia will stand little chance of being elected as long as there is a Luhya presidential candidate.
While the Bukusu remain the most populous of the 17 sub-ethnic groups of the Luhya, with a projected population of 1.8 million out of the Luhya’s 6.6 million (27.2 %), they are in the minority when the other 16 sub-ethnic group are considered. The Maragoli is the 2nd largest sub-ethnic group with a projected population of 773,543 (11.2 %). Thus the Bukusu vote will not add much to Jubilee Party’s overall vote in 2017.
Even a FORD-Kenya/Wiper Coalition with Wetangula as presidential candidate and Kalonzo as running mate or verse-versa will not work as they will miss most of the Luhya, all of the Luo, some of the Kisii and Coast votes and will end up a distant third in a three-way race.


By using the 2009 census results for Kenya’s 43 ethnic groups, and then projecting their population in 2017 (based on average annual growth of 2.4 %), the Kenya Election Database software can display the estimated voter potential (based on 40 % of 2017 projected population) for each ethnic group.
Kenya’s projected ethnic group (excluding non-citizens) population in 2017 will be 47 million. If there is an 80 % voter registration, then the potential voters will be 18.8 million. Since adults (18 years or over) make 50 % of Kenya’s population, and not all of them register as voters for various reasons, 40 % is taken as the average of Kenya’s population that registers as voters (80 % of projected adult population in 2017).
The ethnic groups are ranked by 2009 population with Kikuyu ranked 1st (6.6 million) and the Konso ranked 43rd (1,758). Note that sub-ethnic group are included in the main ethnic groups, e.g. Kipsigis and Pokot are included under Kalenjin; and Giriama and Digo under Mijikenda. The Kenya Election Database also gives the 2009 census and 2017 population projection for each of Kenya’s 79 sub-ethnic groups.
The “Big Five” main ethnic groups comprising the Kikuyu, Luhya, Kalenjin, Luo and Kamba make up 64 % of Kenya’s citizen population hence can influence the results of any Presidential elections. Out of these “Big Five”, the Kikuyu (8.2 million population projection in 2017) and Kalenjin (6.2 million) support the Jubilee coalition while the Luhya (6.6 million), Luo (5 million) and Kamba (4.8 million) support the CORD coalition. The next 6 ethnic groups in ranking account for 26 % of the Kenya citizen population: Kenya Somali (2.9 million), Kisii (2.7 million), Mijikenda (2.4 million), Meru (2 million), Turkana (1.2 million) and Maasai (1 million). Note that the Kenya Somalia and Turkana population may have been overstated in the 2009 census.
Hence the top 11 ranked ethnic groups listed below will have a projected population of more than 43 million in 2017, accounting for more than 90 % of Kenya’s citizen population. Their estimated voter potential will be 17.4 million if 80 % voter registration is achieved. Whichever coalition controls the majority of the top 11 ethnic group will have a good chance to win the 2017 Presidential elections as long they achieve a high voter registration and turn-out.
The table below shows that out of the top 11 ethnic groups, Jubilee controls only 3 ethnic groups with total estimated voter of 6.6 million if 80 % registration is achieved while CORD controls 5 ethnic groups with total estimated voter of 9.2 million. The Kenyan Somali and Masaai are considered “Fifty/Fifty” as they usually vote for both coalitions. They have a total estimated voter of 1.1 million and 421,148 respectively if 80 % registration is achieved. Refer to my blog “Road to Elections 2017: The Reality of Ethnic Block Votes” found at .

[table id=65 /]

Note: The Somali and Turkana population census figures may need verification after the 2009 census as the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) raised a red flag on figures from 8 Districts in Mandera, Wajir, Garissa and Turkana.


The two main coalitions in Kenya, Jubilee and CORD, control 18 and 19 counties respectively which can be considered their strongholds. 10 other counties are considered “Fifty/Fifty” or battle grounds, where both coalitions are more or else equal.
County strongholds were determined by which coalition garnered the majority votes (above 66.6 %) in that county in the 2013 Presidential Elections. Where both coalitions failed to get a majority, then that county was designated “Fifty/Fifty” or battle ground. For example in Narok County, the 5 out of the 6 constituencies elected an M.P. affiliated to the Jubilee coalition, but Raila Odinga of CORD had more votes than Uhuru Kenyatta of Jubilee (50 % against 46 %), hence making Narok a “Fifty/Fifty” county. Although Vihiga County was won by Musalia Mudavadi of Amani coalition, it is unlikely that he will stand alone again in 2017; hence Vihiga has been placed under CORD.

[table id=66 /]

[table id=67 /]

[table id=68 /]

While CORD intends to remain a pre-election coalition, the Jubilee Coalition is set to launch the Jubilee Party (JP) on 10th September, 2016 where all parties under the coalition are expected to dissolve and all candidates contest under JP in 2017. This merger has no numerical advantage for Uhuru as he prepares to defend his seat in 2017 and will make it harder to form pre-election coalitions with other political parties outside his Kikuyu and Ruto’s Kalenjin ethnic group.
There are TWO possible scenarios for the 2017 elections if a Luhya candidate is chosen as a flag bearer for CORD. In Scenario 1, the Amani National Coalition joins CORD and Mudavadi becomes the Presidential candidate with Kalonzo as his running mate. In Scenario 2, Kalonzo pulls Wiper out of CORD and makes a pre-election coalition with the Jubilee Party, hence CORD will have to get a running mate from the Coast with Mudavadi as the flag bearer:-


This is the most likely scenario in 2017 and assumes that there is no major re-alignments in both coalitions. Out of the top 11 ethnic groups, Jubilee fully controls only 3 ethnic groups with 6.6 million estimated voters if 80 % registration is achieved while CORD mostly controls 6 ethnic groups with 9.2 million estimated voters. The Kenyan Somali and the Maasai are considered “Fifty/Fifty” as they usually vote for both coalitions. CORD’s voters are projected to be 10.3 million, exceeding Jubilee’s 9 million by 1.3 million if 80% voter registration is achieved.
Jubilee cannot afford to sit back and hope not enough CORD supporters will turn up to register and vote in order to re-gain their “Tyranny of Numbers” in 2017. CORD has already embarked on ensuring that youths in their strongholds obtain ID cards and register as voters in time for the 2017 elections. The South Rift “rebellion” led by Bomet Governor Isaac Rutto is expected to fizzle out by the 2017 elections and KANU may not present any threat to the Jubilee Party even if it sponsors its own candidates.


If Jubilee’s attempt to lure the Western Region’s voters to its side fails then its only option is to turn east to the Kamba ethnic group that occupies lower Eastern Region but has as a sizable population in Nairobi and the Coast. This ethnic group is expected to have 1.9 million voters in 2017 and is a principal partner in CORD with Kalonzo Musyoka, the Wiper Democratic Movement-Kenya party leader, the running mate of Raila Odinga in the 2013 elections.
Wiper has had a frosty relationship with Jubilee ever since attempts by Kalonzo to endear himself to Uhuru and Ruto just after they were indicted by the ICC in The Hague in 2011, failed. This re-buff drove Kalonzo into the hands of Raila leading to the formation of CORD in 2012. The Kambas have never forgiven Uhuru and Ruto for the mistreatment of Kalonzo and Uhuru received only 89,064 in Kitui, Machakos and Makueni compared to Raila’s 768,025. There appears to be strategy by Jubilee to win Kamba voters by using Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, as an alternative to Kalonzo but this strategy may backfire as Kambas are unlikely to abandon Kalonzo.
Hence in this scenario, Uhuru and Ruto will have to make peace and make a deal with Kalonzo, who will not agree to dissolve his Wiper Party but may sign a pre-coalition agreement that will guarantee him a significant post in a Jubilee/Wiper Coalition in 2017. One possible guarantee is that Kalonzo becomes Ruto’s running mate in the 2022 Elections, meanwhile he or one of his party members can become Majority Leader (formerly Leader of Government Business) in the 12th Parliament in 2017. Kalonzo will be taking a huge risk since others want to land the 2022 running mate slot in Jubilee Party. If Wiper pulls out of CORD and joins Jubilee, then CORD will have little chance of winning the 2017 elections as the loss of Wiper will reduce CORD’s projected voters in 2017 to 8.8 million compared to Jubilee plus Wiper’s 10.5 million, a variance of 2.7 million. Hence Jubilee can afford to lose the entire Luhya block votes in 2017 as long as they have the Kamba votes. Number of CORD counties will reduce to 16 while Jubilee’s will increase to 21 with Kitui, Machakos and Makueni becoming Jubilee counties. 50/50 counties will be 10. The significant Kamba votes in Nairobi and the Coast will increase the Jubilee vote tally in both Regions.


Elections are about numbers, and the party/coalition that can ensure that most of its supporters register and majority of them turn-up to vote on Tuesday, 8th August, 2017, will win the elections. It is after all, a game of numbers. In fact “the tyranny of numbers” only exists in Parliament due to the many newly created constituencies in the Rift Valley, but does not translate to a huge voter base. Raila Odinga seems to realise that in 2013 he had the numbers to defeat Uhuru without even a run-off but the low voter registration and voter turn-out caused his loss and he does not want to repeat this mistake again.
By using the Kenya Election Database software, it is possible to find out how many registered voters did not vote in 2013 and also the number of adults who did not register (potential voters). In the 2013 Presidential Elections, Uhuru Kenyatta of TNA won in 135 out of 291 constituencies while Raila Odinga of ODM won 153. Musalia Mudavadi of United Democratic Forum Party (UDF) won only in 3 constituencies. Kenyatta obtained 5.2 million votes from constituencies where he was winner out of the total of 6.1 million votes he got in the 2013 Elections. Out of 135 constituencies where Kenyatta won, 790,519 registered voters did not vote and an estimated 1.4 million did not register (based on IEBC targets).
Raila Odinga obtained 4.4 million votes from the 153 constituencies where he was winner, out of total of 5.3 million votes he got in 2013 Elections. Out of the 153 constituencies where he was winner, 1.2 million registered voters did not vote and an estimated 2.3 million did not register (based on IEBC targets). Hence while Kenyatta had a voter deficit of 2 .2 million from his strongholds, Odinga had a voter deficit of 3.5 million clearly showing he had the numbers.
By fore-going the Presidency in 2017, Raila will put to an end the Kikuyu/Luo political rivalry that has been a feature of Kenya politics since Uhuru’s father and Raila’s father had a fall out in 1966 and led to the 2007/2008 post-election violence, Kenya’s worst conflict since independence in 1963.
A Luhya Presidential candidate in 2017 is a nightmare for Jubilee who are expecting to face Raila in a repeat of the 2013 elections and they will need to go back to the drawing board to counter CORD if they indeed were to select Musalia Mudavadi as their flag-bearer.


Raila may remain as the de-facto leader of CORD while holding no state office and join the few World leaders who have held power without being President/Prime Minister of their respective countries, such as Indian National Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi, widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, whose party won the 2004 Indian elections. Mrs Gandhi decided not to become Prime Minister as she was born in Italy and some Hindus were opposed to a white woman leading India, despite the fact that she was a Hindu. She appointed someone else as Prime Minister but remained the de facto leader of India until 2014 when her party lost power.
Another is Myanmar (formerly Burma) leader and Noble Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party won the 2015 elections that ended years of military rule, but was prevented from becoming President as she was the widow of a foreigner and mother to two non-citizen children, a provision specifically written in the country’s constitution to prevent her from becoming President. She appointed someone else to be president but became Foreign Minister and in 2016 assumed a new position of State Counsellor, thus remaining the de facto leader of Myanmar.
Raila can also take the role of an elder statesman like former President Nelson Mandela and Julius Nyerere who were still revered long after leaving the political stage.

Source: The Kenya Election Database version 2.1
21ST August, 2016


By Stan Oyunga (
Nairobi County is not only the seat of Government, it is also the richest county of Kenya’s 47 counties, holding 60% of Kenya’s GDP of 64 billion dollars (6.4 trillion shillings), with the highest revenue base and the economic capital of East and Central Africa. It is not surprising that it a prime target for both the ruling Jubilee coalition and the opposition Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD), whose candidate, Evans Kidero of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) won in Kenya’s first ever gubernatorial elections in March, 2013. Nairobi City County was allocated Kshs 14 billion out of the Kshs 302 billion allocated by the National Treasury to County Governments for 2016/2017 Financial Year. Hence Nairobi is considered the jewel on the Kenyan crown.
Due to its cosmopolitan nature, Nairobi is now the hottest battle ground state with the 2017 General Elections only one year away. While Governor Kidero is expected to defend his seat on an ODM ticket, there is a scramble for the new Jubilee Party ticket. The Jubilee Party which is due to be launched in September, 2016 after 12 parties of the Jubilee Coalition merge.
Nairobi is the most balanced County (fifty/fifty) where both Jubilee and CORD have an almost equal share of voters. According to the 2009 population census, Nairobi County has 3,138,369 people and is projected to have 4 million people by 2017. It had 1,728,801 registered voters in 2013 and is projected to have 2 million voters by the 2017 General Elections, the highest in the country. Nairobi is the most populous county in Kenya and as well as the most densely populated and the third smallest in land area. Only Vihiga and Mombasa are smaller than Nairobi in land area.
During the 2013 Presidential Elections in Nairobi, Raila Odinga of ODM received 691,156 valid votes out of the 1,398,476 (49.42 %) while Uhuru Kenyatta of The National Alliance (TNA) received 659,490 (47.16 %). Although Raila had more votes than Uhuru, this is a variance of only 31,666 hence can be considered a very close race. The other 6 candidates received only 47,830 votes.
In the Gubernatorial Elections, Evans Kidero of ODM received 692,490 valid votes (49.73 %) while the runner-up, Ferdinand Waititu of TNA received 618,047 (44.38 %), which means that not all of Uhuru’s voters voted for the TNA candidate while Kidero received 1,334 more votes than Raila. The difference between the TNA Presidential candidate and gubernatorial candidate was 41,443, which means some of Uhuru’s voters did not vote for Waititu. The 3rd placed candidate, Jimnah Mbaru of Alliance Party of Kenya (APK) received only 52,510 votes (3.77 %) but some of those who voted for Uhuru could have voted for Mbaru for Governor instead of Waititu.
The almost equal support for CORD and Jubilee candidates proves that cosmopolitan nature of Nairobi’s population. No ethnic group can claim to be the majority in Nairobi although the Kikuyu remain the single largest ethnic group in Nairobi County. The Kikuyu have dominated Nairobi Parliamentary elections since independence with most past Members of Parliament coming from this ethnic group except for Westlands, Langata, Makadara and Kasarani constituencies which have had either Luhya or Luo as MPs. The ethnic demographics of Nairobi has changed with the introduction of the 17 new constituencies in 2013 to replace the old 8 (Makadara, Kamukunji, Starehe, Langata, Dagoretti, Westlands, Kasarani and Embakasi).
The 17 new constituencies in Nairobi County are:

[table id=62 /]

Embakasi, which was formerly Kenya’s largest constituency was divided into 5 (South, North, Central, East and West); Langata into 2 (Langata and Kibra); Dagoretti into 2 (Dagoretti North and South); Kasarani into 3 (Kasarani, Roysambu and Ruaraka); Starehe into 2 (Starehe and Mathare).
While both CORD and Jubilee have almost equal support in Nairobi County, they have clear majority in some of the new 17 constituencies. Dagoretti South (c/no 276), Roysambu (c/no 279) and Kasarani (c/no 280) are the only constituencies in Nairobi County with majority Kikuyu population, hence can be considered Jubilee strongholds. Westlands (c/no 274), Dagoretti North (c/no 275), Langata (c/no 277), Kibra (c/no 278), Ruaraka (c/no 281) and Embakasi South (c/no 282) are clearly CORD strongholds. It is not a coincidence that the Luo, Luhya aand Kambas make the majority ethnic groups in these constituencies.
The remaining 8 constituencies can be considered fifty/fifty or battle ground constituencies due to the almost equal votes each coalition received in 2013 as shown in the tables below:-

[table id=63 /]

The perception that parties in the CORD coalition split their votes in the 2013 Parliamentary elections appears to be only true in Makadara (c/no 287) and Embakasi West (c/no 286). In Makadara, both ODM and Wiper Democratic Movement-Kenya split votes thus allowing TNA to win the seat. The ODM candidate had 36,183 and the Wiper candidate had 7,505, totaling 43,688 which was enough to beat the TNA’s candidate’s 40,606. In Embakasi West, ODM, Wiper and Ford-Kenya combined vote was 41,630, which again was enough to beat the TNA candidate’s 40,606.
The key in winning Nairobi County is to target just the 7 constituencies that are east of Outer Ring Road, the only area of Nairobi whose demographics is growing. As more and more people move to this area, new buildings are being put up at a very fast rate to support this growing population. The 7 constituencies now account for 42 % of Nairobi’s estimated population of 4 million (1.7 million), and 40% of its voters, hence a potential voter base of 900,000 by 2017, as shown in the table below:-

[table id=64 /]

There are cases of voter importation mainly from Kiambu into Nairobi in order to boost’s Jubilee’s supporters in ready for the 2017 election as they aim to win the gubernatorial election, but this practice is no longer illegal. As the IEBC has yet to officially release the latest voter registration figures, the impact of voter transfer on Nairobi County voting trends is still not clear.
Source: The Kenya Election Database version 2.1
17th August, 2016