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.