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October 17, 2018

Is UhuRuto marriage ending before 2022?

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto during the launch of the Jubilee Party at Safaricom Stadium in Nairobi on Septermber 10, 2016. Photo/Jack Owuor
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto during the launch of the Jubilee Party at Safaricom Stadium in Nairobi on Septermber 10, 2016. Photo/Jack Owuor

From the political developments in the past one week, it seems the New Year has started on the wrong foot for the Jubilee duo.

This is the very first time cracks seem to appear in Jubilee: Or are people stretching their imagination? Since 2013, when they took over the country’s leadership, Kenya’s Fourth President and First Deputy President were literally joined at the hip. They wore similar clothes and were in tandem in whatever they did or said.

Now, as President Uhuru Kenyatta names his second Cabinet, tongues are wagging, pointing to trouble in the political Eden of Jubilee Party. Could this phase be the turning point for the UhuRuto marriage? Will it rend asunder a marriage that was hoped to survive up to 2022? Kenyan politics is one fluid hell.

The President retained six members of the previous Cabinet, plunging the other 13 into an abyss of uncertainty, including, Deputy President William Ruto’s allies.

But Uhuru let go (as it appears) his loyal Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohamed. Mohamed’s undoing was making Baringo Senator Gideon Moi a protocol director during the swearing-in of Uhuru. Oh, and behold! Gideon was the one receiving heads of state and other leaders at JKIA.

“Where was Ruto when Gideon was smiling broadly ushering in VIPs?” hawk-eyed Kenyans asked. This was a bitter pill for the DP to swallow and someone had to pay for it. Like Mohamed, each of the 13 CSs, knowingly or unknowingly, crossed the red line.

Anonymous sources from Ruto and Uhuru’s sides have said the widespread news of rifts in Jubilee is a figment of fertile imagination. A Ruto ally from Rift Valley agrees with their sentiments. He says it is not a must for the DP to be by his boss’s side whenever he is announcing new appointments.“Many can’t wait for cracks to appear, having in mind that 2022’s epic battle for the presidency is not far away,” another of Ruto’s allies from his backyard, who requested anonymity, said.

But is that really true? Yes, it is.

From now until 2022, Jubilee’s self-consciousness is founded on Uhuru’s succession. This is the elephant in the room and it is the fulcrum responsible for the rumours, half-truths and total lies about the happenings in the corridors of power in as far as Jubilee is concerned. Kenyans have witnessed MoU flushed down the drain as soon as an incumbent finishes his term. There is a nagging doubt that this could happen to the agreement between Uhuru and Ruto. But the former has for the umpteenth time assured his Number Two of his unwavering support, come 2022. Will Uhuru prove he is different from his predecessors? Will he be a man and fulfill his promise to Ruto and support him in 2022? Some voices from Uhuru’s backyard have emphasised that they will not support him. If this happens, Ruto will have to dig somewhere for support. He is aware of this and that is why he has started looking for allies in other communities, although some of them have been dropped from the Cabinet.

A lot is at stake if Uhuru tosses Ruto to oblivion and embraces the son of the man who propelled him to the helm of the country’s politics. Uhuru, Gideon and President Daniel Moi have a long relationship. The old man from Sacho, Baringo county, hopes Uhuru would push his son Gideon to be the next head of the Kenyan state as a sign of appreciation.

The President visited Mzee Moi in his Kabarak home amid the push and shove of the controversial August 8 election. Only Uhuru, Gideon and Moi met to the exclusion of others. Was their conversation centered on Uhuru’s succession or was it a discussion on solutions to the political storms bedeviling the country then?

Although he denied playing any role “whatsoever” in the formation of Uhuru’s government, Gideon’s men and women in Kanu could be co-opted into the new Cabinet, something political pundits say does not sit well with the DP. These Kalenjin sons are eyeing the presidency in 2022.

Their ambitions place Uhuru between the devil and the deep blue sea. If he supports the DP, Mzee Moi will cry foul about betrayal. For the sake of Uhuru, Moi threw his long-time Vice President, the late Prof George Saitoti, under the bus so that the son of Jomo could inherit his political mantle. In the event he ignores the MoU between him and his ambitious DP, fire and fury will ensue. The Rift Valley will morph into fragmented political rifts and valleys — part of the community will stick with Ruto and the other will follow Gideon. On the other hand, if Uhuru dumps Ruto, this could lead to the revival of political competition between the Kikuyu and sections of the Kalenjin community.

Historically, previous political marriages have come to naught. In 2002, Second Liberation doyen and opposition maverick Raila Odinga drew up an agreement with Mwai Kibaki before he helped him win the presidency by a landslide. But President Kibaki pretended not to remember it. The same fate met Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka after agreeing to be Kibaki’s VP, following the acrimonious 2007 presidential election. At the end of his second term, Kibaki shoved Kalonzo under the bus and headed to Othaya.

 

 

 

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