Ford Kenya

Political Party

Summary

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.

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