SUCCESSION POLITICS

Raila's silence over 2022 keeps Ruto's camp guessing

Raila is yet to declare his 2022 ambitions but his allies have been urging him to take a fifth stab at the presidency

In Summary

• Ruto's camp is wary Raila might also throw his weight behind one presidential candidate.

• As a contingency, jolted Raila opponents have planned for the possible scenarios.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, ODM leader Raila Odinga, Deputy President William Ruto and other leaders during the official opening of Bidco's Industrial Park in Ruiru, Kiambu County on July 25, 2019.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, ODM leader Raila Odinga, Deputy President William Ruto and other leaders during the official opening of Bidco's Industrial Park in Ruiru, Kiambu County on July 25, 2019.
Image: COURTESY

ODM leader Raila Odinga's secret political card has rattled his opponents even as he remains tight-lipped on his 2022 gameplan.

The former Prime Minister is yet to declare whether he will vie but his recent moves which some Jubilee politicians claim have split their party has made them mark him as a potential candidate.

Raila, who has vied for President for four times, has triggered divisions in the ruling party following his handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta and his subsequent growing influence in government.

 

From a vicious political antagonist, Raila has morphed into a key pillar in Uhuru's administration, with Deputy President William Ruto's allies crying foul that he has disrupted Jubilee's succession plan.

Fears that he could also pull a surprise and declare support for another aspirant has sparked jitters among major political bigwigs who have expressed interest in the top seat.

Consequently, whether Raila will run or who he will he back is becoming a headache for potential presidential aspirants.

As a contingency, jolted Raila opponents have planned for the possible scenarios.

In 2002 Raila's surprise 'Kibaki Tosha' mantra helped the gigantic Narc opposition coalition end President Daniel Moi's 24-year rule.

Narc's Mwaki Kibaki beat Kanu's Uhuru in a landslide victory.

Ruto's strategists are wary of a situation where Raila might endorse a compromise candidate to challenge the DP.

 

"We are planning for all scenarios. It has become increasingly clear that Raila is planning to run and there is no doubt about that," Soi MP Caleb Kositany, a key Ruto ally, said.

The vocal MP said battle lines have been drawn between Raila and Ruto, adding that it is only a matter of time before the ODM leader publicly declares he will be on the ballot. 

Uhuru’s pronouncement that he doesn't care about his successor, despite publicly declaring he would leave it to Ruto after his two terms,  is pushing the DP to employ a more assertive approach for his Statehouse bid. 

Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, Raila's key strategist, told the Star that the former Premier was being calculative and will make a decision at the right time.

“By being silent about his 2022 interests, the Prime Minister is sending a message that 2022 is still far and it is not a priority for now,” the National Assembly Minority Whip said.

“There are urgent matters that should be sorted out before 2022. We need to fix this issue about early campaigns as a country as it has been identified as one of the predicaments facing the country.”

It has also emerged that the Building Bridges Initiative-driven referendum might be one of Raila's cards to ride to power in 2022.

The task force is set to submit its report to Uhuru and Raila by October, amid speculations it will recommend far-reaching changes in the system of governance.

Ruto has opposed a referendum and the creation of the position of a Prime Minister under the parliamentary system.

The country is already facing a possible referendum with Ekuru Aukot's Punguza Mizigo Bill, which has been submitted to the county assemblies.

The opposition leader's decision to cozy up with Uhuru through the handshake is seen as a part of his game plan to shore up support for his push for a parliamentary system.

On Thursday, former National Assembly deputy speaker Farah Maalim told the Star that Raila's silence is “part of a conspiracy to take the country into a parliamentary system” and get an opportunity to be PM.

“The next election will not be a presidential election. It will be a parliamentary election. I can tell you without blinking my eye that a referendum that will change the structure of governance will come before 2022,” the former Lagdera MP said.

 “Raila knows what is coming and, therefore, cannot be crisscrossing the country campaigning for a none-issue. Raila understands this and knows that the party with majority MPs after the next general election will form the government,” he said.

Raila has often hit out at his critics pushing him to declare his 2022 ambitions, telling them there are serious issues among them corruption and ethnicity that must be tackled first.

“Don't be swayed or be derailed by politics of 2022. There are things that we must fix before 2022. If we don't stand up now, things are going to get worse,” Raila said last month at Burma market, Nairobi.

However, taking no chances amid speculations Raila's 2022 role would significantly alter the country's political matrix, Ruto is leading contenders in firming up their political and financial war-chests.

The 2022 politics in the recent past has been escalated by the warring factions of ‘Kieleweke’ allied to Uhuru and Raila while the ‘Tangatanga’ camp has been drumming support for Ruto.

ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Wiper's Kalonzo Musyoka who all worked with Raila's NASA in 2017 are also quietly planning their bids.

While Raila's ODM is on a radical re-branding strategy to revamp itself in readiness for the next general election, the party leader is snuggling up to Uhuru.

A cross-section of Orange party MPs has been signaling that Raila will be on the ballot in 2022 in what has thrown his NASA co-principals to the drawing board.

ODM  has already denounced an alleged NASA MoU which allegedly barred Raila from running in 2022 under the same umbrella in a clear signal that the former PM will run.


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