How Narc under Kibaki lost the Rainbow dream shortly after the 2002 election victory

Declaration of Uhuru as the Kanu presidential flag bearer in 2002 saw a section of the then ruling party defect to form the Rainbow Alliance

In Summary

• After winning the election, cracks emerged in the alliance over several issues and coalition agreements.

• President Kibaki and some of the allies had backtracked on proposal to create a strong prime minister position.

Former President Mwai Kibaki
Former President Mwai Kibaki

The year was 2002 and Kenya was preparing for a general election in December.

Raila Odinga was hoping that, as Kanu's secretary general, President Daniel Moi would name him his successor.

He had, after all, merged his National Development Party with Kanu in March.

His hopes were however shattered when Moi asked Kanu to support Uhuru Kenyatta.

This did not sit well with Raila and his allies. Some Kanu members regrouped and formed the Rainbow Alliance in protest.

Despite the protest, Uhuru was officially declared the successor months later.

Raila and the Rainbow Alliance moved out of Kanu in protest and formed their own party, the Liberal Democratic Party.

LDP then joined with a coalition of parties including the National Alliance of Kenya to form the National Rainbow Coalition under the leadership of Mwai Kibaki.

Narc went on to win the December 27, 2002, general election with a landslide, with Kibaki trouncing Moi's project, Uhuru.

Soon after Narc lost the Rainbow dream.

Internal rifts fuelled by a failed power-sharing pact and personal ambitions proved to be the coalition's undoing.

Kibaki refused to honour a gentlemen's agreement coined in a memorandum of understanding on power-sharing structure in the new government.

Although terms of the agreement were not made public, the two parties reportedly promised to equitably share Cabinet posts and power—including making Raila a prime minister. 

Raila and his allies accused Kibaki of betrayal and although they remained in government, they made it clear they were no longer on his side.

Kibaki's government was under enormous pressure to deliver on campaign promises.

Narc had promised to end corruption, rejuvenate the country's stalled economy and deliver a new constitution.

In 2003, tension between the two Narc factions increased over a number of issues discussed at the country’s constitutional review conference, including the proposal to create a strong prime minister position, which Kibaki and his supporters now backtracked on. 

Public elation soon turned into frustration as the 'National Rainbow Coalition dream' slowly turned into a nightmare. 

Eventually, a draft constitution supported by Kibaki that provided for a weak prime minister and a strong president was presented to the public in a referendum in November 2005.

This was the real test for the Rainbow coalition. Raila's and his allies campaigned against the draft constitution.

During the vote, the symbol for 'No' was an orange while 'Yes' was represented by the image of a banana. The orange quashed the banana in the November 21, 2005, referendum.

Smarting from the bruising defeat, Kibaki sacked the ministers who opposed the proposed constitution and this led to the formation of the Orange Democratic Movement.

ODM continued to gain popularity in the lead-up to the 2007 general election. Opinion polls put Raila ahead of Kibaki in the presidential election. 

Kibaki announced the formation of the Party of National Unity on September 16 2007, on whose ticket he would run for reelection on December 27 of that year. 

Kanu, the party that Kibaki defeated in 2002, joined hands with PNU. Moi and Uhuru backed Kibaki.

As counting got underway after the December vote, Raila was ahead of Kibaki and looked set to win. His supporters were euphoric. State House would be painted orange, they declared. 

However a suspicious delay led to Kibaki being declared the winner and sworn in at dusk.

ODM supporters were livid and the country degenerated into horrific violence pitting ethnic groups against each other in the candidates' key strongholds.

More than 1,300 people were killed and over 600,000 were displaced.

It took the intervention of the international community, represented by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan and former Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete, to broker an agreement between Kibaki and Raila.

On February 28, 2008, the two men signed a power-sharing agreement and shook hands outside Harambee House.

They were back in government together, with Raila as prime minister.

In 2010, they finally delivered a new constitution, eight years after promising to do so within 100 days of being in office.  

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