The Star (Kenya) - - Voices -

For­mer pres­i­den­tial can­di­date and Gatanga MP Peter Ken­neth re­cently opted out of the 2017 pres­i­den­tial race. He said he will run for gover­nor in “two or three coun­ties that have ap­proached me”. His first at­tempt at the pres­i­dency in 2013 ended dis­mally. He gar­nered a pal­try 72,786 votes. The ques­tion that fol­lows is, what has brought him to this epiphany mo­ment? In his own ad­mis­sion, the 2017 gen­eral elec­tion is be­tween two out­fits: The Ju­bilee Party and the op­po­si­tion. And in his own es­ti­ma­tion, the re­sult will not be any dif­fer­ent from 2013, hence his de­ci­sion to with­draw and sup­port Pres­i­dent Uhuru.

There are some quar­ters that are not con­vinced by his rea­son(s).

Flam­boy­ant Nairobi lawyer Don­ald Kip­ko­rir says a Peter Ken­neth pres­i­den­tial can­di­da­ture in 2022 will be treated as a “be­trayal”. An­other the­ory in­ti­mates that PK is strate­gi­cally po­si­tion­ing him­self in much the same way Uhuru did in 2007, when he for­sook his pres­i­den­tial am­bi­tions and backed Pres­i­dent Mwai Kibaki. He later se­cured the Gema com­mu­nity lead­er­ship man­tle in 2013. Uasin Gishu Gover­nor Jack­son Mandago has waded in, say­ing PK’s en­try in the 2022 race will up­set the 2013 MoU — a hos­tile move the Kalen­jin na­tion will not tol­er­ate. It is not lost to keen ob­servers that PK comes from Mu­rang’a, an area that has felt con­tin­u­ously short-changed in power-shar­ing in the Cen­tral re­gion.

Uhuru’s as­cen­dancy to the pres­i­dency, how­ever, can­not be at­trib­uted to the sin­gle act of sac­ri­fic­ing his po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions for Kibaki, and if there are any sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween Uhuru and Ken­neth’s ac­tions, they end there.

The first fac­tor that pro­pelled the Pres­i­dent to power was the brand name — Keny­atta.

It was an easy sell lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally as it was per­haps Kenya’s big­gest and best known name. The fact that the brand came with an enormous fi­nan­cial war chest was also an added ad­van­tage.

The sec­ond fac­tor was his case at the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court. It is an in­dis­putable fact that Uhuru was not a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date at the dis­cred­ited 2007 gen­eral elec­tion, which was marred by the post-elec­tion vi­o­lence.

That he was per­son­ally in­dicted and the ac­tual ad­ver­saries left scot-free re­mains a tragedy. His in­dict­ment brought out a deep sense of alarm and in­dig­na­tion in large swathes of the coun­try. Many saw Uhuru as the sac­ri­fi­cial lamb, who was be­ing cru­ci­fied for at­tempt­ing to de­fend the in­ter­ests of a com­mu­nity un­der sav­age at­tack. In sim­ple terms, he paid the price as a sac­ri­fice for the com­mu­nity and coun­try. Sac­ri­fice is a ma­jor thread in Kenyan politics. The team­ing up of for­mer an­tag­o­nists, the pop­u­lous Kalen­jin and Kikuyu, through the ef­forts of the youth­ful UhuRuto was a mas­ter­stroke. They took the coun­try by storm and left op­po­nents trail­ing in their wake.

Third is his per­sonal charisma. Uhuru has an in­cred­i­ble pres­ence and con­nects with all kind of peo­ple eas­ily. He comes across as the good neigh­bour next door. When he in­vites school­child­ren to sit in his of­fice chair and in­vites re­leased pris­on­ers to State House, he takes mat­ters to un­prece­dented lev­els.

Ken­neth, on the other hand, comes across as the stiff CEO he was at the KFF and the Kenya Re-In­sur­ance Cor­po­ra­tion. A nice guy, at least and an Obama replica at most. He built a brand­name —PK — al­beit only on so­cial me­dia and learnt the harsh les­son that there are no votes on Face­book and Twit­ter. On sac­ri­fice, he scores zero and fails monumentally. In­deed, he at­tempted to sab­o­tage Uhuru in 2013 and failed mis­er­ably. Be­trayal comes with a price and he should ex­pect to be pun­ished by vot­ers. His ear­lier rants that the govern­ment was in­ept, cor­rupt and he would never join Ju­bilee are on record. One is left won­der­ing who is fool­ing who in this en­tire mi­asma.


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