HARJINDER SINGH: LDP spirit, flame still burning

LDP, formed by journalist Denise Kodhe in 1999, is still in existence.
LDP, formed by journalist Denise Kodhe in 1999, is still in existence.

Many people wonder what became of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which formed the Narc government in 2002 and gave birth to the current main political parties. The largest opposition party ODM, led by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and Wiper emerged from LDP.

LDP, formed by journalist Denise Kodhe in 1999, is still in existence. Although it fielded candidates in the 2017 general election, none of them sailed through because of the Nasa and Jubilee waves.

LDP played a pivotal role in the transition of power from President Moi, of the once dominant ruling party Kanu. For the first time in Kenya’s history, leading and small opposition parties came together to defeat a candidates of the ruling party—Uhuru Kenyatta—under Narc.

LDP, founded in Beijing by a group of seasoned journalists led by Kodhe, is not just a political outfit by name. It is a party that believes and cherishes true values and principles of liberal democracy. Its formation and eventual capture of power through Narc not only came as a surprise to Moi and his regime, but also opposition politicians and changed the country's political game plan.

In books written about Kenya’s transition in 2002, many writers describe LDP as a good political outfit that came from nowhere and became a household name in a short time.

Kodhe’s dream was a visionary party with values and principles that bring Kenyans together irrespective of tribe, colour or religion. That dream, to some extent, was realised in 2002 when opposition flagbearer Mwai Kibaki won with a landslide, beating Uhuru, who was described as a Moi project.

The irony is that wonderful political formations like LDP were founded by unknown or little-known individuals but along the way were hijacked by seasoned politicians whose only interest was to use them and dump them when they achieved their goals. Parties are just delivery vehicles and members don’t cherish any values.

Kodhe, who ran for Gem MP on the LDP ticket in 2017, says since Independence in 1963, Kenya has been in the hands of pseudo-politicians who do not believe in anything except power and amassing wealth.

Many Kenyans wrongly thought that LDP was founded by Raila Odinga or the late Prof George Saitoti, Although Kodhe invited the then Rainbow rebels from Kanu to join the party during the famous October 14, 2002, political rally in Uhuru Park, he and his team were thrown out, killing LDP's dream and vision.

The Rainbow team led by Raila, Kalonzo Musyoka, Saitoti and others ran away with it for some time, negotiated with it and then dumped it after forming the government.

It is interesting to note that some leading parties today were formed by individuals with good ideas and vision like Kodhe but they have remained silent heroes after they were either bought out or forced out by ambitious and greedy politicians.

Political outfits are just parties by name and not substance—no principles or values. According to Kodhe, who still nurtures and cherishes the ambition of the party, LDP’s dream is still fresh and burning like before. It is the only political outfit with good intentions that can unite Kenyans to bring meaningful change and development.

“The spirit did not die with the formation of Narc government in 2002 as LDP is there to stay as a political institution.” Blamwel Juma, LDP’s current national chairman, says LDP “is the party to watch in 2022 since it is the party for the future.”

Kodhe trained in liberalism and liberal democracy at the International Academy for Leadership in Gummers Bach, Germany. When forming LDP in 1999, the party was affiliated to other international political foundations, institutions and organisations. They inlcude the Friedrich Neumann Foundation, Liberal international, Liberal Democrats of UK, etc, enhancing and championing liberal democracy, values and policies, as well as the African Liberal Network, which was also founded by Kodhe, among others.

Liberal Tribune, Leeds, UK