Kenyan presidential election, 2007

A presidential election was held as part of the Kenyan general election on December 27 2007; parliamentary elections were held on the same date. Incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner and sworn in on December 30, despite opposition leader Raila Odinga's claims of victory. There is a degree of agreement in the international community that the elections were at least partially manipulated. In July 2008, an exit poll commissioned by the US was released, revealing that Odinga won the election by a comfortable margin of 6%, 46% to 40%, well outside of the exit poll's 1.3% margin of error.

The election was strongly marked by tribalism, with Kibaki a member of the traditionally dominant Kikuyu ethnic group getting much support amongst people of Central Kenya i.e. Kikuyu and neighbouring groups like Embu and Meru. Odinga, as a member of the Luo ethnic group, succeeded in creating a wider base by building a coalition with regional leaders from the Luhya in Western Kenya, Kalenjin from the Rift Valley and Muslim leaders from the Coast Province. The third place candidate, Kalonzo Musyoka, had his base mainly amongst the Kamba. Following the announcement of Kibaki's victory, civil unrest broke out which was often directed against members of Kibaki's ethnic group residing outside their traditional settlement areas.

Kenneth Matiba of Saba Saba Asili joined the race after a 10-year political hiatus. Other candidates were Joseph Ngacha Karani (Kenya Patriotic Trust), Nixon Jeremiah Kukubo (Republican Party of Kenya), Pius Muiru (Kenya Peoples’ Party), David Waweru Ng’ethe (Chama Cha Umma) and Nazlin Omar (Workers Congress Party).

Timeline and preparations

Incumbent president Mwai Kibaki declared on January 26, 2007 his intentions of running for re-election, even though he had previously declared at the 2002 elections that he needed only one term as president. At the time ODM-Kenya coalition was expected to field the strongest challenger for Kibaki. The main parties affiliated to ODM-Kenya were LDP and KANU. At the time of the 2002 elections, LDP was part of the NARC movement backing Kibaki, but were dismissed from the cabinet after the 2005 constitutional referendum. KANU, on the other hand is a former ruling party, but the former president Daniel arap Moi was among its faction opposing its involvement with the ODM-Kenya coalition. KANU and LDP had originally teamed up for the 2005 referendum, under the banner Orange Democratic Movement.

ODM-Kenya split in two in August 2007, with one faction (ODM-Kenya) led by Kalonzo Musyoka, while others joined the original ODM. KANU left the coalition. Former president Daniel arap Moi announced his support for the re-election of Kibaki, his former political enemy, in late August, and Uhuru Kenyatta followed the suit and announced his support for Kibaki in mid-September. Kenyatta had earlier vied for presidential candidacy on the ODM ticket before he and his party KANU had ditched the coalition. KANU will field its own parliamentary candidates.

Several ODM members vied for presidency, including Kalonzo Musyoka, Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, Najib Balala, Musalia Mudavadi and Joseph Nyagah. Following the August 2007 split, the ODM-K appointed Musyoka as its candidate on August 31 and the ODM elected Odinga as its candidate on September 1.

On September 16 2007, Kibaki announced that he would stand as the candidate of a new alliance called the Party of National Unity, which will include a number of parties, including KANU, DP, Narc-Kenya, Ford-Kenya, Ford People, and Shirikisho among others. He began his presidential campaign on September 30 at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi.

Odinga launched his campaign in Uhuru Park on October 6. On the same day, three ODM supporters were shot (one of them fatally), allegedly by bodyguards of Stanley Livondo, who is running as the PNU candidate for Odinga's seat in parliament. Livondo was arrested, along with two of his bodyguards and released later.

In October, Odinga led Kibaki in opinion polls. Two cabinet ministers, first Health Minister Charity Ngilu and then Regional Cooperation Minister John Koech, backed Odinga in October; Kibaki dismissed Ngilu from the cabinet.

Pius Muiru, a bishop and the leader of Kenya Peoples Party (KPP), officially launched his bid for the presidency on October 21, 2007 at Kamukunji grounds.

Parliament was dissolved on Tuesday October 23rd, paving way for the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) to announce the election date. The date was officially announced on October 26, 2007 by the ECK, stating the elections would be held on Thursday December 27, 2007.

Opinion polls in late October put Odinga at 50% support, Kibaki at 39%, and Musyoka at 8%. The poll released in early November put Odinga at 45%, Kibaki at 41% and Musyoka at 11%, while on November 23 a poll placed Odinga and Kibaki at about the same level, with 43.6% and 43.3% support respectively.

Presidential candidates presented their nomination papers on the November 14th and 15th to the ECK and 9 candidates were cleared to be on the ballot in December.

Campaign issues

Some of the issues of the election being discussed by the 3 candidates were:

  • Economy
  • Infrastructure
  • Corruption (see Wikileaks Kenya entry)
  • Majimbo/Ugatuzi (federalism & devolution)
  • Free High school Education
  • Universal Health care
  • Constitution (Odinga promised a new constitution within six months of taking office)

Opinion polls

*For a documentation of more opinion polls in the runup to the Kenyan election see Polls before the Kenyan elections 2007
Poll date Kibaki Musyoka Odinga Mudavadi Ruto Kenyatta
October 2006 41% 20% 13% 3% 5%
December 2006 42% 20% 14% 3% 5%
March 2007 51% 14% 17% 2% 2% 2%
April 2007 44.3% 15.3% 18.7% 2.7% 2.6% 3.5%
June 2007 45% 14% 28% 4% 3% 4%
July 2007 45% 11% 25% 3% 2% 2%
August 2007 42% 11% 25% 8% 6% 1%
August 2007 47% 13% 36% 1% 1%
September 2007 38% 8% 47%
October 13th 2007 37% 8% 53%
October 23rd 2007 39% 8% 50%
November 9, 2007 41% 11% 45%
November 21, 2007 41.4% 14.7% 40.7%
November 17, 2007 42% 11% 45%
November 23, 2007 43.3% 11.4% 43.6%
December 7, 2007 42% 10% 46%
December 18, 2007 43% 10% 45%

The June 2007 poll also featured a section on a head-to-head poll with Kibaki against each of the ODM candidates. Both Musyoka and Odinga scored 45%, indicating a dead-tie with Kibaki. The rest of the candidates scored as follows against Kibaki: Najib Balala: 43%, William Ruto: 39%, Uhuru Kenyatta: 38%.

Presidential election results

An exit poll conducted from 310 polling stations in 139 constituencies (out of 210) showed Kibaki getting 50.3% of the votes compared to 40.6% for Raila Odinga. On the other hand, early results by Kenyan media gave Raila Odinga a narrow lead.

Odinga held a strong lead in vote counting on December 28, and the ODM declared victory for Odinga on December 29; however, as more results were announced on the same day, the gap between the two candidates narrowed. Early on December 30, Odinga accused the government of fraud, urged Kibaki to concede defeat, and called for a recount. The Electoral Commission declared Kibaki the winner later on December 30, placing him ahead of Odinga by about 232,000 votes. According to Odinga, at least 300,000 votes for Kibaki were falsely included in his total. The Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Samuel Kivuitu, said that while irregularities did occur, they were a matter for the courts, not the Electoral Commission. Following the Commission's declaration of his victory, Kibaki was sworn in for his second term later on the same day, calling for the "verdict of the people" to be respected and for "healing and reconciliation" to begin.

Kivuitu said that there were some problems in the vote counting, noting that in one constituency voter turnout was reported as 115%. According to the European Union's head observer in the election, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, the election was "flawed" and the Electoral Commission failed to establish "the credibility of the tallying process to the satisfaction of all parties and candidates. The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, said that his country had "real concerns" about the election. While the United States initially congratulated Kibaki and called for the results to be respected, it also expressed concern, and on January 2 2008 a spokesman for the U.S. State Department declined to confirm U.S. recognition of Kibaki's victory. Kivuitu said on January 2 that he had been pressured by PNU and ODM-K (Kibaki's and Kalonzo Musyoka's parties) into announcing the results without delay, declaring Kibaki as elected winner; claiming that he did not personally know who really won.

Within minutes of the Commission's declaration of Kibaki's victory,tribe-based rioting and violence, primarily directed against Kikuyus, broke out across Kenya, and the government suspended live television coverage for some days. Odinga alleged that "a clique of people around Kibaki" sought to rig the election, but said that democracy "is unstoppable like the flow of the Nile". The ODM announced its intention to hold a ceremony on December 31 in which Odinga would be declared the "people's president", but police said that this could incite violence and that Odinga could be arrested if the ceremony occurred. Odinga then delayed this, but called for a million-strong rally on January 3 2008 and for his supporters to wear black armbands as a show of mourning.

Odinga said that the ODM would not negotiate with Kibaki unless he resigned, because to do so would, according to Odinga, mean acknowledging Kibaki's legitimacy; he also said that, unless stopped, the "ruling clique" could rig the next election in five years as well, and that he was not afraid of being arrested, having been jailed many times in the past. For his part, Kibaki emphasized the importance of peace, stability, and tolerance in his 2008 New Year's message, speaking of the election as a concluded event and warning that law-breakers would be punished.


These are the official results as of January 29, 2008 as appears on the Electoral Commission of Kenya website. Alongside are figures put out by the Office of the Government Spokesman , and also appeared at media websites soon after the results were announced .

Party Candidate Votes (ECK) 29 Jan Votes (Kibaki Gov't)
PNU Mwai Kibaki 4,578,034 4,584,721 46%
ODM Raila Odinga 4,352,860 4,352,993 44%
ODM-K Kalonzo Musyoka 879,899 879,903 9%
KPTP Joseph Karani 21,168 21,171 0.2%
KPP Pius Muiru 9,665 9,667 0.09%
WCPK Nazlin Omar 8,624 8,624 0.087%
SSA Kenneth Matiba 8,049 8,046 0.081%
CCUP David Ng'ethe 5,976 5,976 0.06%
RPK Nixon Kukubo 5,926 5,927 0.06%

Provincial results

Province Kibaki % Odinga % Kalonzo % Others % Votes Cast Registered Voters Turnout
NAIROBI 313,478 47.7% 288,922 44.0% 52,974 8.1% 1,845 0.3% 657,219 1,275,021 51.5%
COAST 197,354 33.1% 353,773 59.4% 38,881 6.5% 5,909 1.0% 595,917 1,045,629 57.0%
NORTH EASTERN 97,263 50.3% 91,440 47.2% 4,498 2.3% 333 0.2% 193,534 315,664 61.3%
EASTERN 835,481 50.4% 83,575 5.0% 726,782 43.8% 13,229 0.8% 1,659,067 2,516,998 65.9%
CENTRAL 1,741,086 97.0% 34,046 1.9% 11,702 0.7% 7,215 0.4% 1,794,049 2,186,315 82.1%
RIFT VALLEY 818,445 33.5% 1,580,880 64.6% 33,863 1.4% 12,300 0.5% 2,445,488 3,358,285 72.8%
WESTERN 312,300 32.2% 639,246 65.9% 6,729 0.7% 11,417 1.2% 969,692 1,564,854 62.0%
NYANZA 262,627 16.9% 1,280,978 82.4% 4,470 0.3% 7,160 0.5% 1,555,235 2,041,686 76.2%
Totals 4,578,034 46.4% 4,352,860 44.1% 879,899 8.9% 59,408 0.6% 9,870,201 14,304,452 69.0%

NB - In addition to receiving the largest number of votes in absolute terms, a successful presidential candidate must also win 25% or more of the vote in at least five of Kenya's eight provinces to avoid a runoff.

Election observers statement

The following account is drawn from the statements of four of the five domestic election observers allowed into the verification process the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) afforded political party representatives the night before the announcement of the results for the Presidency. Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ)


Riots erupted in Kenya after Kibaki was declared re-elected as President. Certain opposition supporters, angered by alleged electoral manipulation by President Kibaki, allegedly incited civil unrest. The unrest involved ethnic violence between members of different tribes, particularly between the Kikuyu and the Luo. Eventually, a power-sharing agreement, according to which Kibaki would remain President and Odinga would gain the new post of Prime Minister, was reached in late February 2008, and a coalition government, with an equal number of ministers for the PNU and the ODM, was named in April.

January 2008 Government

After being sworn in as President, Kibaki named a partial Cabinet on January 8, 2008, composed of 17 members of parliament from his party PNU and ODM-Kenya which entered into a coalition agreement, along with KANU. A number of further cabinet slots were left temporarily open, presumably to give space for negotiations with the opposition ODM which, however, immediately challenged the constitutionality of this government.

This cabinet consisted of:

  • (1) Vice President and Minister for Home Affairs: Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka
  • (2) Minister of State for Provincial Administration and Internal Security, Office of the President: Professor George Saitoti
  • (3) Minister of State for Defence, Office of the President: Yussuf Mohamed Haji
  • (4) Minister of State for Special Programmes, Office of the President: Dr. Naomi Namsi Shaban
  • (5) Minister for Public Service, Office of the President : Asman Abongotum Kamama
  • (6) Minister for Finance : Amos Muhinga Kimunya
  • (7) Minister for Education : Professor Sam Ongeri
  • (8) Minister for Foreign Affairs : Moses Wetangula
  • (9) Minister for Local Government : Uhuru Kenyatta
  • (10) Minister for Information and Communications : Samuel Lesuron Poghisio
  • (11) Minister for Water and Irrigation : John Munyes
  • (12) Minister for Energy : Kiraitu Murungi
  • (13) Minister for Roads and Public Works : John Njoroge Michuki
  • (14) Minister for Science and Technology : Noah M. Wekesa
  • (15) Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs : Martha Karua
  • (16) Minister for East African Community : Dr. Wilfred Machage
  • (17) Minister for Transport: Chirau Ali Mwakwere

US Exit Poll

While few reports mentioned it, the US, acting through USAID commissioned the International Republican Institute, to conduct an exit poll during the election. IRI initially did not have confidence in the integrity of the poll data. It therefore believed the poll to be invalid and decided not to release the poll. However, after an audit of the poll data file, IRI reversed its earlier position and released the poll in July 2008.

The poll indicated that Odinga won the election by a margin of 6%, 46% to 40%, well outside of the exit poll's 1.3% margin of error.


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