The Star (Kenya) - - Politics -

HE an­nounce­ment by Peter Ken­neth that he is shelv­ing his Pres­i­den­tial bid in favour of Uhuru Keny­atta in 2017 has made some Kalen­jins jit­tery.

And they are right to be wor­ried. Ken­neth is re­peat­ing the ex­act same words that Uhuru Keny­atta ut­tered in sup­port of Mwai Kibaki in 2007, shelv­ing his own Pres­i­den­tial am­bi­tions in favour of Pres­i­dent Kibaki’s re­elec­tion.

Uhuru had been ex­pected to run against Kibaki, but it was clear to all that, if he had done that, he would have split the Kikuyu vote and Raila Odinga would have stomped into State House.

Talk of déjà vu! Ken­neth knows that step­ping down will con­sol­i­date the Kikuyu vote for Uhuru then he will use that as a bar­gain­ing chip for his 2022 bid. This, of course, will send Wil­liam Ruto’s Pres­i­den­tial bid into a spin, just as it did Raila Odinga’s.

One prom­i­nent Kalen­jin sup­porter of Ruto was quick to put it on Twit­ter that if Ken­neth runs in 2022, it will be con­sid­ered ‘treach­ery’. Ken­neth’s sup­port of Uhuru puts Ruto in the ex­act same po­si­tion Raila was in at the 2013 elec­tion.

Raila had hoped the Kikuyu would sup­port him in re­turn for ac­cept­ing to sup­port Kibaki’s claim to the pres­i­dency in 2008, but that did not hap­pen.

The whole idea of ‘treach­ery’ should be mu­sic to the ears of an Op­po­si­tion keen to break the Kikuyu-Kalen­jin al­liance that has once be­fore de­nied them the Pres­i­dency. You un­der­stand the pain of be­ing told ‘I told you so!’

As an as­tute politi­cian, Ken­neth knows the value of al­liances and if you look at his 2013 bid, he had taken a Luo run­ning mate, Ron­ald Osumba, who, like him, was born in Nairobi and was also an Old Stare­hian.

If he names him as his run­ning mate in 2022, it will bring about a new Kikuyu-Luo al­liance that will be more at­trac­tive than any other com­bi­na­tion, as­sum­ing Raila will not be run­ning.

The Kalen­jins are right to be wor­ried be­cause Ken­neth’s name would be an easy sell across the coun­try – and even in­ter­na­tion­ally, par­tic­u­larly be­cause of his mixe­drace her­itage.

He has also not been em­broiled in con­tro­ver­sies and scan­dals as Ruto has. Both Ruto and Ken­neth have trav­elled a near-sim­i­lar po­lit­i­cal path. Both are age-mates and rose from poverty to wealth.

How­ever, Ruto has far too many po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies who are likely to be at­tracted to Ken­neth’s can­di­dacy.

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