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Challenges PM has to contend with

BETWEEN THE SHEETS
By | March 1st 2009

By Gakuu Mathenge

Prime Minister Raila Odinga is in dilemma as the Grand Coalition Government loses public appeal.

Recent opinion polls show the public is not happy with Government’s failure to deliver on pledges, backtracking on constitutional review, resettlement of internally displaced persons and official corruption.

While President Kibaki will not need to account to voters come 2012, Raila will have to face them.

Furthermore, the thin parliamentary majority makes it hard for the PM to discipline errant comrades.

This is complicated by the delicate ethnic balancing act he has to manage to keep his troops intact.

Among other things, he will have to explain where his fire-in-the-belly and energy in anti-corruption campaign went once he got to power.

He is not only being accused of being soft on corrupt elements in the ODM ranks, but actually condoning it.

Escape coalition baggage

Some of his supporters propose that he bails out of the coalition before 2012 so as to escape from the coalition’s baggage.

Those who think this way point to Raila’s past of bowing out at the right time. For instance, he led a rebellion in Kanu to join Narc in 2002 and jumped out of Narc in 2006 to join ODM. Every time he’s done this, it has propelled his standing among competition to higher rung.

However, others feel this would be ill-advised and he should instead stay put to the last minute and share the advantages of incumbency while defending or explaining failures of the coalition.

Indeed, the PM seems to be wide-awake to difficulties ahead. He constantly reminds his supporters their journey to the ‘promised land’ is not complete.

"We will soon have a new majimbo constitution which is the only way to develop marginalised areas. What you are seeing is not what ODM promised.

"If the broth (Government services) feels tasteless, it is because it has been diluted," Raila said in Kajiado last weekend.

He took the same message to Maragoli Cultural Festival in Kakamega in December, last year.

The majimbo promise resonates with marginalised communities.

But there has been hue and cry over whether the political leaders promising majimbo mean the same thing as communities whose version of the system is a means to correct perceived historical wrongs, especially those to do with loss of land.

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