Two meetings, 150 kilometres apart, among Kenya's three dominant political families has fuelled furious speculation and foreshadowed just how acrimonious the 2022 succession might be.
The scheming and expected betrayal back-stabbing are reminiscent of the Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki succession wars.
The truce between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition chief Raila Odinga on March 9 and the meeting on April 12 between Raila and former President Daniel Moi are shifting the political landscape. The country is in campaign mode four years too soon.
A suspected clandestine deal among the Kenyatta, Moi and Odinga families, if it takes shape, would be a powerful force in 2022, a juggernaut crushing competitors.
With Uhuru exiting and Raila indicating he might not (or might) run for State House, politicians are trying to sense which way the wind is blowing and positioning themselves as potential heirs.
While DP William Ruto has been seen as the Jubilee Party's flagbearer and Uhuru's heir apparent, it no longer seems like a done deal and many people are working to ensure he does not occupy State House.
He was excluded from advance knowledge of the handshake deal and he wasn't allowed to pick his allies for the Cabinet, positioning himself for 2022. Is the succession deal — Jubilee ruling for 20 years — still a sure thing.?
There's Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, the leader of Kanu, which is in Jubilee. But he had Ruto have a history of animosity. After his father's meeting with Raila, he could get a boost to his own presidential ambitions, from both men.
In the opposition, the main figures in the race — so far — are ANC's Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper's Kalonzo Musyoka and Ford Kenya's Moses Wetang'ula.
If he's not in the race, Raila will play the role of kingmaker, which is why his recent warmth with the Mois and Kenyattas has caused ripples and anxiety.
Raila believes William Ruto cost him the presidency in 2012 and most believe he will most likely support anyone but Ruto.
Yesterday the DP said early succession talk about changing the Constitution — and creating a powerful PM — was misplaced. He spoke as Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok said, “During the last election, Turkana people were not with you. But this time we are working with other Rift Valley communities to have one voice on leadership.”
Speaking during a thanksgiving ceremony for Trade PS Chris Kiptoo at Chepkosom Primary School in Uasin Gishu, Ruto said the Uhuru-Raila cooperation pact was aimed at uniting the country.
“It's the Kenyan people who have the mandate to elect leaders of their choice. There's no way a few individuals in Parliament can have the responsibility of electing people to powerful positions," Ruto said.
The DP said Kenyans should not misinterpret the ongoing handshakes as avenues to share or create seats for some individuals.
“Politics is behind us. The next election will be in 2022. It’s therefore time we focus our energies in serving the people who elected us,” Ruto said.
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Murkomen said the handshake should not be used to derail the development agenda.
“Some people want to take advantage of the handshake to call for a referendum and politics will be the order of the day until 2022. This will deny us the opportunity to implement the Big Four agenda,” Murkomen said.
Ainabkoi MP William Chepkut said, "Ruto is the highest-ranking leader in Rift Valley and there is no competition in this region. No soul can tell us otherwise."
Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi said, "The Kalenjin community will not allow Gideon Moi to block William Ruto's chance of becoming Kenya's fifth President."
“Ruto started as hustler and rose through leadership ranks the hard way. Hardship can produce the best President."
Emurua Dikkir MP Johana Ng’eno asked Ruto to consolidate his Rift bloc and end divisions before reaching out to other regions. He told Ruto to his face to bring back rebel politicians and reduce the number of enemies before 2022.
Ngeno told Ruto face-to-face to bring back rebel politicians from his community and reduce his enemies ahead of tough 2022 battle. When the time comes, the community will consult and might ask Gideon Moi to step aside for Ruto, he said.
In Nakuru on Saturday, Mudavadi rejected claims he would join forces with Gideon in 2022, saying he had no plans to meet to meet him. However, he said he was open to working with like-minded leaders to form a formidable force for a better nation . He defended the plan to merge his party with Ford Kenya and said he is not forming a Luhya party.
"ANC and Ford Kenya are national parties which won't lock out other communities since the parties are represented countrywide," Mudavadi said.
"We should not pretend we can't talk about 2022 now. Plans, reorganisations and realignments have to be done. But we should not be so consumed that we fail to deal with priorities of the day," the former Deputy Prime Minister said.
Yesterday, some Kilifi county leaders launched campaigns for Ruto's 2022 presidential bid, saying days of being in opposition are over.
Led by Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa, they said Ruto was the only suitable presidential candidate and called on on everyone to support him.
Jumwa spoke during fundraising for Naona Mwangaza women's group attended by Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, representing DP Ruto.
For the first time, she shared a platform with Kilifi Jubilee leaders, indicating they are now working together, despite political affiliations.If the Coast supports government, there will be more benefits, she said.
Present were Nominated Senator Christine Zawadi, Magarini MP Michael Kingi and several MCAs. Both Jumwa and Kingi were ODM diehards but allegiances are shifting.
Lusaka urged Coast and Western leaders to unite with the rest of the country to be part of one party and the government in 2022.
Kingi said the Coast leaders would decide between Ruto and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho for President. He said the region must be in government, not opposition.
Elsewhere, Narok North MP Moitale ole Kenta Raila, his party leader, to declare if he will run for President in 2022, or support another candidate.
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He said even if the former PM doesn't run, there's no guarantee the Maasai will support Raila's choice for President.
Addressing journalists in Narok town over the weekend, Kenta said Raila should consult all leaders ab out 2022.
“Kenya is not for the Kenyatta, Moi and Odinga’s families, it is for all Kenyans," he said. "If Uhuru and Raila's coming together is for succession politics, we are not part of it. As a community, we don't want to be dragged into issues and later be left out,” Kenta said.
He said Kenyans are suspicious and people are "on our neck to give them
“If it is unity to bring change to this country, we support it but we will oppose it if is about 2022 succession politics. Kenya is not a dynasty nation,” Kenta said.