FALLOUT?

Allies bickering risks collapsing the handshake

The succession politics was not part of the handshake, or so they said

In Summary

• The popular argument of those in the ODM camp is that the President seems  uncommitted to support Raila’s 2022 presidential bid.

• Uhuru and Raila should be wary of the tricks employed by their respective allies. Some could be out to derail their noble initiative.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga during the handshake on March 9, 2018
UNWELCOME TRUCE: President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga during the handshake on March 9, 2018
Image: Jack Owuor

A few days ago, I read print media that the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga was staring at imminent collapse.

According to this story, unnamed top allies of the two leaders were no longer reading from the same script and had resorted to throwing the spanner in the works.

The popular argument of those in the ODM camp is that the President seems  uncommitted to support Raila’s 2022 presidential bid. East Africa Community member Oburu Odinga, Raila’s brother, and Siaya Senator James Orengo had a few weeks earlier been quoted as rallying Uhuru to back Raila. Do you expect the President to support them? My answer is a big No.

First, the succession politics was not part of the handshake, or so they said. So, if the President falls prey to their political tricks, this would be interpreted to mean he had been shortchanged by Raila.

He would then lose the trust and confidence of the people in his strongholds of Mt Kenya region and come out as the biggest loser. Come the 2022 polls, chances would be that the voters would rebel against him.

Remember the remarks he made in Nyeri sometimes back. That when the time comes, he will advise his community on the direction to take. His message to Gema was clear. He wished to pass the baton to a person who would protect their interests.

Raila, on the other hand, understands that his handshake partner has been encountering some hostilities in his home turf. The utterances of his allies are escalating the situation. But I am persuaded to believe the leaders meant their words when they shook hands on March 9, 2018. Therefore, it is too early to conclude they were speaking on his behalf.

For now, Raila should come out in person to set the record straight.

He should tell Kenyans that the issue of Uhuru succession was not in the agenda. The nine-point of our shared objectives can attest to this. He should also move a step further to reprimand and tame his allies.

Uhuru’s allies should also tread carefully on this matter. It is too early to start making adverse statements to antagonise Raila and portray him in bad light. We should appreciate that he made the right step when he agreed to climb down in the aftermath of 2017 presidential election.

 

Remember Raila had already taken a mock oath declaring himself as the People’s president. Many interpreted this as laying the ground for an all-out war with President Kenyatta.

We had not reached this level when Raila fell out with President Mwai Kibaki in the aftermath of 2007 presidential election. Nevertheless, the country plunged into the worst post-election violence ever in our history. 

The two leaders had each adopted hardline stances and, as marauding gangs continued to slaughter fellow Kenyans, none of them was willing to cede the ground. This is until when the international community intervened .

According to former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa, who passed on a few days ago, the breakthrough came after two hardliners —one representing Kibaki and the other one Raila — were thrown out of the talks.

Going by this scenario, Uhuru and Raila should be wary of the tricks employed by their respective allies. Some could be out to derail their noble initiative.

Joseph Mutua Ndonga is a political analyst and blogger