The Main Political Parties in Kenya

Party of National Unity (PNU)

Founded: 16th September 2007

Key Figures: Mwai Kibaki, George Saitoti

PNU was founded as a political coalition of parties in Kenya. On September 16, 2007, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki announced the party formation and said that he would run as its presidential candidate in the December 2007 Kenyan elections. It has since become a political party in its own right following conditions set by the Political Parties Act, passed in Kenya in 2008.

The PNU started out as a coalition of several parties, including the KANU, Narc-Kenya, FORD-Kenya, FORD-People, Democratic Party, Shirikisho, National Alliance Party of Kenya and others. President Mwai Kibaki was to be the only personal member of PNU besides the corporate membership through the affiliated parties.

PNU was created shortly before the elections that were held in December 2007. Until the beginning of September it was not clear on which party's ticket the president was going to run. In the 2002 elections, Kibaki ran as the candidate of the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), which had since split. The erstwhile original NARC was legally in the hands of its chairperson Charity Ngilu who showed no inclination of siding with Kibaki for a renewed bid. Kibakis allies had already pulled out of NARC and founded NARC-Kenya which was not on good terms with a number of important politicians in Kibaki's government of National Unity which had seen the intake of erstwhile opposition figures since 2005 who held on to their parties like KANU or FORD-Kenya.

Poor political preparation of the new party became obvious in the process of nomination for parliamentary seats. Initially, PNU member parties agreed to field parliamentary and civic candidates under PNU, except KANU, which was permitted to field its own candidates. However, this agreement failed to materialise. As a result, some candidates -mainly from Kibaki's former Democratic Party- contested under PNU ticket and others under their respective parties. In a number of constituencies PNU-affiliated candidates were contesting against each other for the same parliamentary seat.

PNU fared poorly in the parliamentary elections 2007 reaching only 43 seats against nearly 99 for its main rival, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). Together with affiliated parties, however, it could command around 78 members of parliament.

On February 28, 2008 through a mediation team headed by former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, the PNU government reached a deal with the ODM to share power. ODM is headed by Raila Odinga. The power sharing deal was the first one of its kind in Africa.

Since the 2007 elections, PNU has since registered as a political party in its own right with George Saitoti selected as chairman and Mwai Kibaki as party leader, much to the dismay of several of its coalition partners. Structure

When founded, in 2007, the party membership consisted of Mwai Kibaki as the sole individual member, with all other parties within the coalition having corporate membership. However, in mid 2008 the party embarked on a membership drive and grassroots elections in order to create structures to function as a political party in its own right. Though an attempt to get the affiliate political parties to merge into PNU failed.

The party leadership structure consists of a Party Leader, National Chairman, Secretary-General, and provincial chairpersons.

The Democratic Party

Founded: December 1991

Key Figures: Mwai Kibaki,

The Democratic Party is a conservative political party that was founded in 1991. In the 2002 legislative elections, the party was a partner in the National Rainbow Coalition, that won 56.1% of the popular vote and 125 out of 210 elected seats. The party itself took 36 of these seats. At the presidential elections of the same day, the party supported Mwai Kibaki, who won 62.2% and was elected. At the Kenyan general election, 2007, Democratic Party became part of the newly created Party of National Unity led by President Mwai Kibaki.

MISSION The mission of the Democratic Party of Kenya is to provide: A Democratic Popular, Participatory and Consultative Government that is based on Unity, Justice, Liberty, Equality, Transparency and Accountability. DP will create an enabling environment for more production and greater National productivity and therefore a richer nation and people.

CORE VALUES AND BELIEFS The Democratic Party of Kenya has clear values that are stipulated in the constitution and all leaders and members are required to abide by them as well as to propagate them. The Five (5) critical values that are at the heart of the work of the party are:- 1. Accountability 2. Transparency 3. Justice 4. Dignity 5. Tolerance

IDEOLOGY The Democratic Party believes and promotes the ideology of freedom of the individual, protection of human rights and a free market economy within the principles of a nationalist Kenya. The party view is that Kenya should be a land of plenty with an open and democratic government under the rule of law. The party is committed to preventing and resisting public corruption. DP believes in the separation of powers among the various organs of Government and constitutional rule.

The Kenya African National Union (KANU)

Founded: 1960

Key Figures: Uhuru Kenyatta, , Oginga Odinga, Jomo Kenyatta, Tom Mboya. Daniel Toroitich arap Moi

The Kenya African National Union, better known as KANU, ruled Kenya for nearly 40 years after its independence from British colonial rule in 1963, until its electoral loss at the end of 2002. It was known as Kenya African Union before it was renamed in 1960.


From October 1952 to December 1959, Kenya was under a state of emergency arising from the "Mau Mau" rebellion against British colonial rule. During this period, African participation in the political process increased rapidly. The first direct elections for Africans to the Legislative Council took place in 1957.

The Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) was founded in 1960, to challenge KANU. KADU's aim was to defend the interests of the tribes so-called KAMATUSA (an acronym for Kalenjin, Maasai, Turkana and Samburu), against the dominance of the larger Luo (Kenya) and Kĩkũyũ tribes that comprised the majority of KANU's membership (Kenyatta himself being a Kĩkũyũ). KADU pressed for a federal constitution, while KANU was in favour of centralism. The advantage lay with the numerically stronger KANU, and the British government was finally forced to remove all provisions of a federal nature from the constitution.


KANU's leadership structure consists of a national chairman, a secretary general and several national vice chairmen. All these officials are elected at a national delegates conference (The last full election was in 2005 and it saw Uhuru Kenyatta confirmed as party chairman). The structure is an alteration of the original, which saw party delegates elect a single vice chairperson, in a move that was seen as a move to ostracise the then vice chairman, Oginga Odinga, by politicians allied to Jomo Kenyatta and Tom Mboya. Delegates who participate at the national elections are selected through the party's constituency level branches.

Forum for the Restoration of Democracy–Kenya (FORD-Kenya)

Founded: August 1991

Key Figures: Oginga Odinga, Moses Wetangula, Michael Wamalwa Kijana. James Orengo, Professor Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, Raila Odinga, Wangari Maathai

FORD-Kenya was part of the ruling NARC coalition that ended forty years of KANU rule in Kenya. It is headed by Hon Moses Wetangula, the MP for SIRISIA Constituency.

History The history of FORD-Kenya is essentially the history of multi-party politics in Kenya. Kenya was a one party state until December 1991, when a special conference of the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) party agreed to introduce a multiparty political system. An umbrella political grouping, The Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD) had been formed in August 1991 by six opposition leaders to fight for change in the country. But President Daniel arap Moi had outlawed it, and its leaders had been arrested and detained. They were released only after sustained pressure from Britain, the USA and Scandinavian countries.

In August 1992 FORD split into two factions - FORD-Asili (led by Kenneth Matiba) and FORD-Kenya (led by Oginga Odinga). FORD Kenya performed poorly in the general elections of 1992, coming a distant third behind KANU and FORD-Asili. The re-election of President Moi and KANU, both deeply unpopular, owed much to the division of the original FORD.

Oginga Odinga died in January 1994, and was succeeded as Chairman of FORD-Kenya by Michael Wamalwa Kijana. At the time, FORD Kenya's leadership included some of the top opposition leaders in Kenya, including lawyer James Orengo, economist Professor Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, Raila Odinga, the son of Oginga Odinga, Oburu Odinga, Raila's elder brother, environmentalist (and, later on, Nobel laureate) Wangari Maathai, and many others. But the party was headed for yet another split.

Michael Wamalwa and Raila Odinga tussled over the leadership of FORD-Kenya for 2 years: in 1997, Wamalwa beat Odinga in free and fair party elections, precipitating a devastating tribal split that the party is now recovering from. Raila, with a sizeable number of Luo MP's, left FORD-Kenya to join the National Development Party of Kenya (NDP). In the 1997 general elections, FORD-Kenya came a lowly fourth, behind Raila's NDP.

Kenya's opposition political parties finally put their differences behind them in the run-up to the 2002 general elections, fielding one candidate, Mwai Kibaki, for the presidency. Kibaki trounced the KANU candidate, Uhuru Kenyatta, and formed a government of national unity. He appointed FORD-Kenya's leader, Michael Wamalwa Vice President, as well as giving a number of cabinet positions to FORD-Kenya MP's.

Michael Wamalwa Kijana died in London in August 2003, after a long illness. In the aftermath of the funeral, FORD-Kenya elected Musikari Kombo to succeed Wamalwa. Kombo beat another FORD Kenya MP, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, in the contest. FORD-Kenya under Musikari Kombo has been a remarkable party. With neither the charisma of Michael Wamalwa nor the crowd-pulling popularity of Raila Odinga, Kombo has struggled to establish the party as an influential component of the ruling coalition. The party has felt short-changed after the death of Wamalwa: the prized position of Vice President was handed to the LDP's Moody Awori, while a number of other appointments have also gone the way of other parties. Musikari Kombo showed his mantle as the FORD-Kenya Chairman when he led his party MPs in rejecting their appointment to the newly reconstituted cabinet after the constitutional referendum of 2005. This forced President Mwai Kibaki to take Mr. Kombo and FORD-Kenya seriously and increase the number of FORD-Kenya cabinet ministers to 6 from 3 and acquire other senior civil service appointments for its party members.

In March 2007, a breakaway party known as New FORD Kenya was registered. It was formed by cabinet minister Soita Shitanda. Mukhisa Kituyi later joined the party.

At the Kenyan general election, 2007, FORD-Kenya aligned with the newly-created Party of National Unity led by President Mwai Kibaki. It ran, however, its own candidates in a number of places. This time the election results were very poor. With 1/4 of constituencies not yet decided FORD-K managed only to hold to one seat. The party went through numerous court cases trying to get a new leader after Komos leadership period ended, a process which Hon Wetangula take the leadership mantle of the party through a national delegates congress elections.

Forum for the Restoration of Democracy – Asili (FORD-Asili)

Founded: August 1992

Key Figures: Kenneth Matiba, Martin Shikuku

The Forum for the Restoration of Democracy–Asili is commonly known as FORD-Asili. Asili means 'original' in Swahili. FORD-Asili has its origins in the original Forum for the Restoration of Democracy. In August 1992 the original FORD (Forum for the Restoration of Democracy) split into two factions. The Odinga-Kijana faction remained in the original Nairobi party headquarters at Agip House on Haile Selassie Avenue whilst the Matiba-Shikuku faction moved to Muthithi House on Muthithi Road in Westlands. Thus for a period prior to registration as independent parties the two factions were known as FORD-Agip and FORD-Muthithi.

FORD-Agip was registered as FORD-Kenya whilst FORD-Muthithi was registered as FORD-Asili. Both parties went on to field competitive presidential candidates in the December 1992 elections. FORD-Asili's candidate Kenneth Matiba polled second to KANU's Daniel Toroitich arap Moi in 1992 and won 31 parliamentary seats, dominating Muranga District in Central Province and garnering a credible portion of the votes in Eastern and Western Provinces.

By 1997 Kenneth Matiba and Martin Shikuku disagreed on a number of matters resulting in Matiba's departure from the party, his destruction of his voter's card and refusal to stand in the 1997 Presidential Elections. Martin Shikuku therefore won the party presidential nomination and went on to win only 0.6% of the Presidential Vote with the party winning 1 National Assembly seat.

In the 2002 election, FORD-Asili won 2 out of 212 elected seats and did not field a presidential candidate, supporting the successful NARC alliance candidate Mwai Kibaki.

In 2007, FORD-Asili supported Mwai Kibaki again as presidential candidate this time under the Party of National Unity banner and won a single parliamentary seat in its own right (Kirinyaga Central - John Kariuki). In the same election the party's original presidential candidate Kenneth Matiba re-registered as a voter and stood under the Saba Saba-Asili banner (Saba Saba referring to 7 July 1990: the date of riots in Kenya to demand the return of multi-partyism). Matiba came 7th with only 0.081% of the vote.

The National Rainbow Coalition–Kenya (NARC-Kenya)

Founded – 2006

Key Figures: Martha Karua, William Kariuki, Hussein Sasura,Ukur, Yattani Kanacho

NARC-Kenya was formed after the defeat of the Government sponsored Draft constitution. It was formed by National Rainbow Coalition members loyal to the government. The party, though months old, captured 3 parliamentary seats (Nakuru Town, Saku and North Horr) and 2 Civic seats in the by-elections of 24 July 2006 that are seen as a litmus test for the up coming general elections for which the new party was planned to play a major role in securing re-election for president Kibaki.

The party won three out of the five parliamentary posts up for grabs. Its candidates William Kariuki, Hussein Sasura and Ukur Yattani Kanacho won the Constituencies of Nakuru Town, Saku and North Horr.

Incumbent president Mwai Kibaki was expected to receive the party's nomination for another 5-year term. The party, however, never took off. Important figures round Kibaki were hesitant to join. Thus few months before the 2007 election a new coalition by the name of Party of National Unity was formed of which NARC-Kenya became a part.

The party decided, however, to field a number of candidates under its own flag, thus contributing to the overall poor results for PNU in the parliamentary elections where parties affiliated to PNU competed against each other. At the Kenyan general election, 2007, Narc-Kenya managed to enter three candidates into parliament.

In late 2008 PNU opted to register as a political party in its own right, to the opposition of several coalition parties including NARC-Kenya. Narc-Kenya opted to continue registering members in its own right electing Martha Karua as party leader in November 2008.

The National Alliance Party of Kenya (NAPK)

Founded: 3rd July 2000

Key Figures: Lawrence Nginyo Kariuki,

The National Alliance Party of Kenya was formed on July 3, 2000 when people from varying background decided to form an alliance of democratic forces to work for the social, economic and political unity and welfare of Kenyan communities. The leaders of the communities represented at the inaugural meeting subsequently approached Mr. Lawrence Nginyo Kariuki, a prominent businessman and renowned politician to be the founding chairman of the Alliance and Mr. Kariuki consented.

The Alliance has the primary objective of bringing Kenyans together, with the recognition that being united, they stand a better chance of successfully tackling the political, social and economic challenges they face.

In preparation for the 2002 elections, the Democratic Party (DP)together with other 13 small political parties adopted the National Alliance Party of Kenya (then NAK) which had been registered as a political party by a central Kenya businessman Lawrence Nginyo Kariuki. Other members of the NAK were KIjan Wamalwa of Ford Kenya, charity Ngilu of Social Democratic party among others. Few weeks to the 2002 general elections NAK formed a coalition with Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to form the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) umbrella coalition party. On 27 December 2002, the last legislative elections, NARC won 56.1 % of the popular vote and 125 out of 212 elected seats. NAK itself took 66 of these seats. At the presidential elections of the same day, NARC supported Mwai Kibaki, who won 62.2 % of the vote and was elected the third president of Kenya.

On September 13, 2007 NAk joined Mwai Kibaki and other political parties in the formation of the Party of National Unity (PNU). PNU fared poorly in the parliamentary elections 2007 reaching only 43 seats against nearly 99 for its main rival, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). Together with affiliated parties, however, it could command around 78 members of parliament. On February 28, 2008 through a mediation team headed by former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, the PNU government reached a deal with the ODM to share power. ODM is headed by Raila Odinga. The power sharing deal was the first one of its kind in Africa.

The national Alliance party of Kenya was re-registered again in the year 2008 under the new political parties act 2007 as an independent party from its previous mother PNU. Now under the leadership of the former chairman Nginyo Kariuki. The Party also changed its initials from NAK to NAPK with the slogan "chui" from the party symbol, a leopard.

The Party was revivived in January 2010 with an aim to benefit from the continued political fallout in ODM and PNU

Orange Democratic Movement - (ODM)

Founded: 2005

Key Figures: Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Henry Kosgey, William Ruto, Najib Balala

The Orange Democratic Movement - (ODM) is the successor of a former grassroots people's movement which was formed in the 2005 Kenyan constitutional referendum. The erstwhile single party which separated in August 2007 into two. The two parties are the Orange Democratic Movement Party of Kenya (usually known simply as ODM), and the Orange Democratic Movement–Kenya (known as ODM–Kenya).

The name "orange" originates from the ballot cards in the referendum, in which a 'Yes' vote was represented by the banana and a 'No' vote was the orange. Thus the parties claim successorship to those who did not support the referendum at the time.

The original linchpins of the ODM were Uhuru Kenyatta's KANU party and Raila Odinga's LDP, but KANU have since pulled out, and the two groupings are headed by Raila Odinga (ODM) and Kalonzo Musyoka (ODM–Kenya).

The 'No' vote which the ODM campaigned for won out with 58.12% of Kenyans voting down the proposed constitution, granting victory to the Orange. Following the rejection of the constitution, President Mwai Kibaki proceeded to dismiss his entire cabinet. The response of the ODM was to say that this was a step in the right direction, but called for immediate general elections for the entire Kenyan government, claiming that the Kibaki regime had lost its mandate as a result of the referendum which it vigorously campaigned in favor of. Kibaki's government has resisted this and elections were not held until the last week of Kibaki's five-year constitutionally-mandated tenure. However, the ODM has emerged as a major opposition party along with KANU, and has organized a number of rallies throughout the country asking for elections and a new constitution amongst other demands. Also, the ODM has protested Kibaki's new cabinet. Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which opposed the referendum, was dropped out of the cabinet.

After the 2002 elections KANU was beaten into opposition, while LDP was a partner in the ruling NARC coalition, until it was kicked out after the 2005 referendum. LDP had supported no vote at the referendum, thus being against president Kibaki.

Following their united stand in the referendum debate and responding to a threat by a newly formed Narc-Kenya party, the leaders of KANU, LDP and some smaller parties decided to team up for the upcoming 2007 Kenya general elections, forming the Orange Democratic Movement, which was named after the symbol of an orange used to represent "No" in the referendum. However, opportunist lawyer Mugambi Imanyara managed to register ODM as a party before the coalition did, forcing them instead to use the ODM-Kenya banner. As 2007 progressed the coalition proved unstable, with various factions defecting. Uhuru Kenyatta's KANU were the first, pulling out in July 2007 and endorsing President Kibaki’s reelection, although some individual KANU politicians stayed in ODM. Then, due to internal rivalry between Kalonzo Musyoka and Raila Odinga, ODM split into two factions in mid-August2007.

Raila's group, which also included Musalia Mudavadi, William Ruto, Joseph Nyagah and Najib Balala defected from ODM Kenya and took over the ODM party registered by Mugambi Imanyara, while Kalonzo's group, led by himself and Dr. Julia Ojiambo remained in the original ODM-Kenya.

The two factions held their elections for presidential candidate on consecutive days at the Kasarani sports complex in Nairobi. On 31 August 2007, Kalonzo Musyoka defeated Julia Ojiambo for the ODM–Kenya ticket, then on 1 September Raila Odinga defeated Ruto, Mudavadi, Balala and Nyagah. There were allegations that some delegates attended and voted in the nominations of both parties bringing to light the problem of ambiguous political party membership that is in Kenya. Raila and Kalonzo then faced president Kibaki in the general election. Kibaki was declared winner of the elections in circumstances that were described as "questionable" by various observers. Raila Odinga and his supporters disputed the results, and triggered widespread violence that mainly targeted members of Kibaki tribe around the country forcing interventions by the international community.

ODM became the largest party in parliament after the December 2007 elections with 99 members of parliament and went ahead to win 3 out of five by-elections in early 2008. However it seems that the jinx of losing Members of Parliament still haunts the party since no sooner had by-elections been conducted in the constituencies of two ODM MPs who were killed at the beginning of the year than two more MPs died in an aircraft crash. Some ODM MP's whose elections were contested in court have lost their seats and more elections petitions are still going on.

Following the passing of the political parties act. ODM, held its internal elections in late December 2008 with Prime Minister Raila Odinga emerging as party leader, and Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey as party chairman. However due to agitation over regional and gender representation, some party posts had to be created on the day. Raila has since fallen out with William Ruto and Najib Balala, two key members of the party.

Orange Democratic Movement – Kenya (ODM-Kenya)

Founded: August 2007

Key Figures: Kalonzo Musyoka, Mutula Kilonzo

Orange Democratic Movement-Kenya grew out of the Orange Democratic Movement Party of Kenya (ODM). It is headed by Kalonzo Musyoka, who ran for president in 2007 and now serves as the vice-president in the GNU of Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga.

The present ODM-K was created out of a split between Kalonzo Musyoka and Raila Odinga in mid-August 2007. Raila's group, which also included Musalia Mudavadi, William Ruto, Joseph Nyagah and Najib Balala bought out the original ODM party from Mugambi Imanyara, while Kalonzo's group, consisting of himself and Dr. Julia Ojiambo remained in the shell of ODM-Kenya.

The two factions held their elections for presidential candidate on consecutive days at the Kasarani sports complex in Nairobi. On 31 August 2007, Kalonzo Musyoka defeated Julia Ojiambo for the ODM–Kenya ticket. On September 1 Raila Odinga was selected the ODM presidential candidate. Raila and Kalonzo faced president Kibaki in the general election. Kalonzo took a distant third place, but in January 2008 he became vice-president of Kenya under Kibaki, whose victory was disputed by Raila Odinga and the ODM.

Following the 2007-2008 Kenyan crisis, which resulted in a great loss of life, a government of national unity was formed between Kibaki's PNU and Odinga's ODM, with Musyoka retaining his position as vice-president. So far, Musyoka is one of two ODM-K in the cabinet, with Mutula Kilonzo as Minister for Nairobi Metropolitan development, as his faction received very little support in the parliamentary election.

Source: Wikipedia