In December 2002, the long-ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) lost massively to a united opposition bringing together 15 parties bound in an electoral pact. This outcome ended one of Africa's most intransigent semi-authoritarian regimes and induced great optimism in Kenya and elsewhere for fundamental reform. This paper analyzes several structural and strategic factors that combined to produce opposition unity, the lack of which was seen as the reason behind the popular opposition losing in two previous elections. It also points to lessons from historical and comparative experiences that militate against the high optimism for fundamental change following such breakthroughs.