President Kenyatta's tough test in 2022 election plans

President Kenyatta's tough test in 2022 election plans
File | Nation Media Group



President Uhuru Kenyatta is walking a tightrope in drawing his 2022 succession matrix amid divisions among his power men, who have since aligned themselves to different camps.

The Nation has established that the cracks in Mr Kenyatta’s camp have emerged due to an uncertain 2022 plan, 14 months to next year’s elections.

The Head of State and ODM leader Raila Odinga have enjoyed a good working relationship since their March 9, 2018 Handshake, with Mr Odinga’s supporters hoping that Mr Kenyatta would give him a through pass in the 2022 poll following his political divorce with Deputy President William Ruto.

But the emergence of One Kenya Alliance within the ‘Handshake’ now threatens the camaraderie between the two leaders, with some members of the so called ‘Deep State,’ and some of Mr Kenyatta’s close family members said to favour leaders of the new outfit.

One Kenya Alliance brings together Mr Odinga’s former National Super Alliance (Nasa) allies— Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (Amani National Congress) and Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya)— as well as Kanu chairman Gideon Moi

A source familiar with the 2022 plans yesterday told the Nation that even although many candidates have declared interest in the top seat, the “system’ has narrowed down to three— Mr Odinga, Mr Mudavadi and Mr Moi— leading to the cracks in the president’s inner circle.

Despite Dr Ruto being edged out of the succession plans by the trio, the source warned, he still enjoys trappings of power by virtue of the office he holds, and still has the ears of some senior State operatives— including some Cabinet secretaries and senior security chiefs.

“The power men still enjoy his largesse and remember he still enjoys trappings of power. You only rule him out at your own peril.”

Mr Musyoka is also said to attract support from some of the president’s men, even though his backing is not “pronounced in the corridors of power.”

Some of the president’s allies who have openly declared support for Mr Odinga are Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe, Jubilee nominated MP Maina Kamanda and former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth.

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru also holds that it is only Mr Odinga who is capable of facing off and winning against Dr Ruto in the 2022 elections.

Mr Murathe said Mr Odinga remains the best bet to fly the Handshake flag, adding that other formations within the arrangement “can only serve as members of the winning team.”

Mr Murathe, Mr Kenneth and Mr Odinga’s men— Senate Minority Leader James Orengo and National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohamed— recently met at trade unionist Francis Atwoli's home in a continuation of pro-Odinga meetings that were for the first time attended by Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju.

Mr Moi, on the other hand, is said to enjoy the support of some of the president’s family, “keen on reciprocating the support the former president bestowed upon Uhuru in 2002.”

A powerful Harambee House operative, whom Mr Odinga’s camp has accused of secretly plotting the 2022 succession to the ODM leader’s detriment and exclusion, is said to favour either Mr Moi or Mr Mudavadi.

Impeccable sources familiar with the current power play also mentioned a senior Cabinet secretary as being behind Mr Odinga while the president’s strategist Nancy Gitau, is mentioned to favour the Mudavadi-Moi axis.

Ms Gitau was one of the coordinators of Mr Kenyatta's presidential elections in 2013 and 2017. She was briefly forced out of power by Dr Ruto’s men after the 2013 elections, but made a comeback.

She also worked in the retired President Mwai Kibaki’s administration and at the tail end of his term, was linked to the team that fronted for Mr Mudavadi as his successor.

ANC Deputy Party Leader Ayub Savula disclosed that senior government officials, including some Cabinet secretaries from Mt Kenya, have met Mr Mudavadi with intention of working with him for the sake of the 2022 elections.

“I can tell you that there have been consultations with our camp by senior State officials and we are confident we will have the support we need,” Mr Savula said.

Political analyst Winnie Mitulah holds that some of the State operatives and members of the first family were instrumental in “leveraging support because of their networks.”

Concerned by the growing feud in the Handshake team as a result of the emerging forces in the camp, President Kenyatta is said to have dispatched his brother Muhoho Kenyatta to Mr Odinga’s home together with Mr Moi to allay any fears of the succession politics.

“The problem has been how the president deals with the cracks in his succession team and that’s why he unleashed his brother Muhoho Kenyatta to play the arbiter role when he together with Gideon paid a visit to Raila at his Karen home on March 13,” a source told Nation.

Mr Moi later met his team members— Mr Mudavadi, Mr Musyoka and Mr Wetang’ula— where he is said to have briefed them of his meeting with Mr Odinga.

Even though Mr Mudavadi confirmed their April 21 meeting, he did not divulge much details.

“Had a meeting this evening with Hon Kalonzo Musyoka, Hon Gideon Moi and Hon Moses Wetang’ula to reflect on further steps to be undertaken in the coming weeks to strengthen and broaden the emerging political formation of One Kenya Alliance,” Mr Mudavadi said.

Yesterday, sources privy to the meeting said they discussed the possibility of embracing Mr Odinga among other “like-minded individuals as per the president’s wish to create harmony and ensure the passage of the Building Bridges Initiative.”

“Uhuru’s hope is to get the team under one umbrella through BBI to avoid an acrimonious split that would give Ruto a chance. His hope is in BBI that if it goes through, it will bring the team under one umbrella, then he will be safe and able to guide his succession,” the source told the Nation.

But Mr Murathe insists that President Kenyatta has no preferred 2022 succession line-up and is keen on delivering Constitutional amendments through BBI.

“Whoever is mixing BBI with 2022 is not talking the same language with the president. Even Jakom (Mr Odinga), is also not into 2022. He is in BBI and so people must learn to separate BBI from 2022,” said Mr Murathe.

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