Forum for the Restoration of Democracy – Kenya
|Headquarters||Kirkwood House, 2nd Floor, Kenya Market, off Mbagathi Way, Nairobi|
|Colors||Black, white and green|
FORD–Kenya (short for Forum for the Restoration of Democracy–Kenya) is a Kenyan political party. It was part of the National Rainbow Coalition that governed Kenya from 2003 to 2007, having ended forty years of Kenya African National Union rule. It is allied to the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy which is the main opposition coalition in Kenya's parliament and is headed by Moses Wetangula, the senator for Bungoma County.
The history of FORD-Kenya is essentially the history of multi-party politics in Kenya. Kenya was a one party state until December 1991, when a special conference of the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) agreed to introduce a multiparty political system. An umbrella political grouping, the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD), had been formed in August 1991 by six opposition leaders to fight for change in the country. But President Daniel arap Moi had outlawed it, and its leaders had been arrested and detained. They were released only after sustained pressure from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Scandinavian countries. In August 1992, FORD split into two factions - FORD-Asili (led by Kenneth Matiba) and FORD-Kenya (led by Oginga Odinga). FORD-Kenya performed poorly in the general elections of 1992, coming a distant third behind KANU and FORD-Asili. The reelection of President Moi and KANU, both deeply unpopular, owed much to the division of the original FORD. Odinga died in January 1994 and was succeeded as chairman of FORD-Kenya by Michael Wamalwa Kijana. At the time, FORD-Kenya's leadership included some of the top opposition leaders in Kenya, including lawyer James Orengo, economist Professor Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, Raila Odinga (the son of Oginga Odinga), Oburu Odinga (Raila's elder brother, environmentalist, and, later on, Nobel laureate), Wangari Maathai, and many others. But the party was headed for yet another split. Michael Wamalwa and Raila Odinga tussled over the leadership of FORD-Kenya for 2 years. In 1997, Wamalwa beat Odinga in free and fair party elections, precipitating a devastating tribal split that the party has yet to recover from. Raila, with a sizeable number of Luo MP's, left FORD-Kenya to join the National Development Party of Kenya (NDP). In the 1997 general elections, FORD-Kenya finished fourth, behind Raila's NDP.
Kenya's opposition political parties finally put their differences behind them in the run-up to the 2002 general elections, fielding one candidate, Mwai Kibaki, for the presidency. Kibaki defeated the KANU candidate, Uhuru Kenyatta, and formed a government of national unity. He appointed FORD-Kenya's leader, Michael Wamalwa, to be vice president and gave a number of cabinet positions to FORD-Kenya MPs.
Change of leadership
Michael Wamalwa Kijana died in London on 23 August 2003 after a long illness. After the funeral, FORD-Kenya elected Musikari Kombo to succeed Wamalwa, beating another FORD-Kenya MP, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, in the contest. With neither the charisma of Michael Wamalwa nor the crowd-pulling popularity of Raila Odinga, Kombo struggled to establish the party as an influential component of the ruling coalition. The party felt shortchanged after the death of Wamalwa, when the prized position of vice president was handed to the LDP's Moody Awori and a number of other appointments went the way of other parties. Kombo showed his mantle as the FORD-Kenya Chairman when he led his party MPs in rejecting their appointment to the newly reconstituted cabinet after the constitutional referendum of 2005. This forced President Mwai Kibaki to take Kombo and FORD-Kenya seriously and increase the number of FORD-Kenya cabinet ministers to 6 from 3 and acquire other senior civil service appointments for its party members. In March 2007, a breakaway party known as New Ford Kenya was registered by cabinet minister Soita Shitanda. Kituyi later joined the party. At the Kenyan general election, 2007, FORD-Kenya aligned with the newly created Party of National Unity led by President Kibaki. It ran, however, its own candidates in a number of constituencies and local authorities. The election results were very poor as with a quarter of constituencies not yet decided had FORD-Kenya holding only one seat. Kombo's tenure ended with the party suffering through numerous court cases trying to get a new leader. Eventually, Moses Wetangula became the leader of the party through a national delegates congress election.
2013 General Elections
In December 2012 it was one of four parties to enter a coalition for reforms and democracy, alongside Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement, Charity Ngilu's National Rainbow Coalition, and Kalonzo Musyoka's Wiper Democratic Movement.
- "Authoritarian leaders and multiparty elections in Africa: how foreign donors help to keep Kenya's Daniel arap Moi in power", authored by Stephen Brown, Third World Quarterly, vol. 22, no. 5, page 728, 2001
- "Obituary Michael Wamalwa", The Guardian Newspaper, 13 October 2003
- "New Ford-Kenya party registered", The Standard, 8 March 2007
- "Ford-Kenya to oppose Kituyi, says Kombo", The Standard, 21 November 2007
- "Kenya president eyes re-election", BBC News, 16 September 2007
- "Raila, Kalonzo seal deal as Mudavadi joins Uhuru, RutoRaila, Kalonzo seal deal as Mudavadi joins Uhuru, Ruto", Standard Digital, reported by Geoffrey Mosoku and Moses Njagih, 5 December 2012