Ken­neth com­pli­cates Ruto plans


The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - FELIX OLICK AND JAMES MBAKA @TheS­tarKenya

Ken­neth de­ci­sion to sup­port Uhuru in 2017 aims to en­dear him to vote-rich Cen­tral re­gion that DP will count on to suc­ceed Pres­i­dent Keny­atta.

PETER Ken­neth’s sus­pected 2022 Pres­i­den­tial bid has stoked anx­i­ety in Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto’s po­lit­i­cal base, fol­low­ing the KNC leader’s sur­prise en­dorse­ment of Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta’s re­elec­tion.

While Ju­bilee Party hon­chos have pub­licly wel­comed the high pro­file sup­port, they have cau­tioned that JP has “an ex­ist­ing 20-year in­tact power plan” between Uhuru and Ruto.

On Sun­day, 51-year-old Ken­neth, pre­vi­ously seen to be cham­pi­oning an anti-tribal phi­los­o­phy, an­nounced he will rally be­hind Uhuru’s sec­ond term bid, and him­self run for gover­nor. He did not spec­ify which county he will con­test in, and played it safe by say­ing he has been ap­proached by “two or three coun­ties”.

His move will also com­pli­cate Ju­bilee’s arith­metic in Nairobi, as could be­come the sixth JP can­di­date han­ker­ing to un­seat the in­cum­bent Evans Kidero.

“We wel­come Peter Ken­neth to Ju­bilee and as­sure him free and fair nom­i­na­tions,” said Na­tional Assem­bly Ma­jor­ity leader Aden Duale, a key Ruto ally. “How­ever, Ken­neth must be aware that as Ju­bilee, we have a strate­gic plan for 20 years… Ruto has what it takes to suc­ceed Uhuru for 10 years”.

Ken­neth’s strat­egy is seen as dis­rup­tive to Ruto’s smooth in­her­i­tance of the key Cen­tral Kenya sup­port base, as it is likely Uhuru’s sup­port­ers could shift their sup­port to the for­mer in 2022. This is es­pe­cially so given that prom­i­nent politi­cians from the re­gion have pre­vi­ously sent warn­ing sig­nals to the DP.

“The guys around the DP are not ex­cited about it [Ken­neth’s po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions]. If he suc­cess­fully in­her­its Uhuru’s bloc and wins Nairobi gover­nor, that would cre­ate a com­pli­ca­tion for the DP,” said po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Martin An­dati.

The for­mer Gatanga MP, who came a dis­tant fourth in the 2013 Pres­i­den­tial polls, is among the most ex­pe­ri­enced politi­cians from the Mount Kenya re­gion, with a good de­vel­op­ment track record.

His po­lit­i­cal game plan is seen to be rem­i­nis­cent of Uhuru’s own 2007 strat­egy, in which he backed then Pres­i­dent Mwai Kibaki’s sec­ond term, de­spite be­ing the Of­fi­cial Op­po­si­tion leader.

Uhuru would later seam­lessly in­herit the mas­sive Mount Kenya vote bloc that pro­pelled him to power in 2013.

Yes­ter­day, Ka­ji­ado North MP Moses ole Sakuda termed Ken­neth’s back­ing of Uhuru a self-cleans­ing move aimed at en­dear­ing him­self to Cen­tral Kenya.

“He wants to re­deem him­self of the 2013 sin. He knows that Cen­tral Kenya is locked in for Uhuru and Ruto and the only way to be rel­e­vant is for him to sup­port Uhuru in 2017,” Sakuda told the Star.

Po­lit­i­cal ob­servers note that past Pres­i­dents from Cen­tral Kenya hailed from Ny­eri and Ki­ambu and the nar­ra­tive in 2022 will be that it is the turn of Mu­rang’a, Ken­neth’s back­yard, to lead.

“Mu­rang’a has al­ways felt short­changed by Ki­ambu. It is now in pivot po­si­tion for a Pres­i­den­tial bid,” In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre for Pol­icy and Con­flict Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Ndung’u Wainaina told the Star.

“Wil­liam Ruto is not Uhuru Keny­atta’s suc­ces­sor. Uhuru will do like his fa­ther: Pick some­one from ei­ther the Maa­sai or So­mali, or any other com­mu­nity that has not had the chance to lead the coun­try as his suc­ces­sor, and have a Mu­rang’a per­son deputise that per­son.”

Uhuru and his fa­ther, Kenya’s found­ing Pres­i­dent Jomo Keny­atta, both hail from Ki­ambu, while Kibaki comes from Ny­eri county.

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with the Star in March this year, Ken­neth vowed he would never join Ju­bilee and blasted Uhuru for pre­sid­ing over big-money graft and fail­ing to de­liver on his 2013 elec­tion pledges.

“Kenyans are be­com­ing a lit­tle bit des­per­ate. They feel they are in a deep hole and they need to get out. Every other week there is a new scan­dal. We now have the Youth Fund. We don’t know what is next,” Ken­neth ex­claimed.

But on Sun­day, the for­mer Gatanga MP ap­peared to be a dif­fer­ent man, full of praise for the Head of State and root­ing for his re­elec­tion.

“There are many rea­sons why Uhuru needs to be sup­ported for a sec­ond term. He has held this coun­try to­gether and has be­come a stick­ler for mat­ters de­vel­op­ment,” he said af­ter

at­tend­ing Mass at St Teresa’s Catholic Church, Eastleigh.

He, how­ever, dodged the 2022 spec­u­la­tion, terming it pre­ma­ture.

“A day in pol­i­tics is a long time, 2022 is too far. My im­me­di­ate task is 2017 and not 2022,” he told jour­nal­ists when asked if he was po­si­tion­ing him­self as Uhuru’s heir ap­par­ent.

Mount Kenya power barons have been send­ing coded sig­nals that back­ing from Cen­tral Kenya for Ruto’s 2022 Pres­i­den­tial bid may not nec­es­sar­ily be forth­com­ing.

Con­tro­ver­sial Ki­ambu Gover­nor Wil­liam Kabogo and nom­i­nated Se­na­tor Paul Njoroge were the first to speak pub­licly about an is­sue that politi­cians gen­er­ally pre­fer to talk about only in hushed tones.

Njoroge claimed that Mount Kenya’s sup­port for Ruto’s bid is driven by fear of a re­turn to vi­o­lence in the Rift Val­ley and that Uhuru could eas­ily be re­elected with or with­out Ruto’s back­ing.

“The other fear is, if you don’t vote Ruto in 2022, you will be kicked out of the Rift Val­ley. That is rub­bish – but our peo­ple have that fear. They are promis­ing the Deputy Pres­i­dent the top seat be­cause of fear, not be­cause they want him,” he stated.

A num­ber of Ju­bilee politi­cians are po­si­tion­ing them­selves in the Uhuru suc­ces­sion bat­tle. De­vo­lu­tion CS Mwangi Ki­un­jiri and Kabogo are al­ready an­gling to be Ruto’s run­ning mate in 2022.

Yes­ter­day nom­i­nated MP John­son Sakaja wel­comed Ken­neth’s sup­port for Uhuru’s re­elec­tion plan, but urged the for­mer MP to fold up his Kenya Na­tional Congress party and join the Ju­bilee Party.



For­mer pres­i­den­tial as­pi­rant Peter Ken­neth dur­ing an in­ter­view with the Star on May 4,2016

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