Kenya - From our reporter

Odinga back on referendum campaign trail

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki’s push for an endorsement of a new constitution has received a major boost this weekend. Prime Minister Raila Odinga hit the campaign trail again after a month out because of health problems.


Campaigning enters the final stretch this weekend and Odinga ,who is seen as the country’s most charismatic campaigner on any issue, is back after undergoing surgery and being ordered by doctors to recover at home.

Kenya's post-election violence 2007-8

Odinga and Kibaki have taken their campaign to the Prime Minister’s political bedrock of Nyanza province in south-western Kenya. They were preaching to the converted as polls showed there is almost unanimous support for the draft there.

Politicians on both sides of the referendum divide have got just three days to put their message forward and sway undecided voters. Official campaigning will end on Monday with voting next Wednesday.

Since 2007’s disputed presidential polls, which gave birth to the current grand coalition government and the push for a new consitition, many Kenyans say they have never seen their usually laid-back president so active. Sometimes he addressed more than three rallies a day.

Both sides are combing the outlying provinces for votes, with final rallies scheduled for Nairobi in the next two days.

The energy Kibaki has put in this campaign is driven by the apparent realisation that some politicians from Kenya’s highly populated and flashpoint Rift Valley Province which was the epicentre of the 2008 post-election violence, could still marshal a swing vote and put the new constitution in jeopardy.

This is seen from massive attendance at recent rallies addressed by former President Daniel Arap Moi and Rift Valley political kingpin and Higher Education Minister William Ruto, who are campaigning for a rejection of the draft and are backed by powerful Christian church leaders.

The yes campaign, however, insists that the odds are in its favour and that, come next week, Kenya will have a new constitution for the first time since it gained independence from Britain in 1963.

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