How Uhuru will influence 2022 presidential poll

Uhuru has already signaled he will play an active role in his succession.

In Summary
  • The President has revealed that he doesn't prefer being succeeded by a Kikuyu or a Kalenjin.
  • Raila is seen as the front-runner in Uhuru's succession matrix. 
Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at a past event.
Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at a past event.
Image: PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta who retires as the country's youngest Head of State is likely to be at the centre of his succession with influence to determine his heir.

Kenya's second President the late Daniel Moi openly campaigned for Uhuru-his then anointed successor in 2002-while Mwai Kibaki in 2013 became tactical and avoided a public declaration.

There are indications that Uhuru who turns 61 next year will play an active role in trying to shape his succession with the country's bigwigs already battling for his blessings.

The ODM boss Raila Odinga, Deputy President William Ruto, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Wiper boss Kalonzo Musyoka have lined up for the President's attention ahead of the 2022 polls.

However, with all of them positioning themselves for a presidential run next year, politicians and analysts opine that Uhuru would play his cards carefully to avert jeopardising his succession plan.

“He(Uhuru) will definitely try to intervene, and he will, to influence his succession,” said former Githunguri MP Njoroge Baiya.

Deputy President William Ruto.
Deputy President William Ruto.
Image: FILE

The former chairman of the National Assembly's Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee said Uhuru will play a visible and active role in shaping the 2022 presidential polls.

“You can't say he is going to be a figurehead but if you see the kind of alignments going on in the country, you can't deny his hand,” stated Baiya.

The President has already indicated that he would prefer someone outside the Kikuyu or Kalenjin community to become the next president, technically boxing Ruto out of his succession plan.

He(Uhuru) will definitely try to intervene, and he will, to influence his succession
Former Githunguri MP Njoroge Baiya

This is seen as part of his scheme to personally influence the succession politics after his remarks triggered excitement in the opposition camps.

This means that the President could move to rally his Mt. Kenya backyard behind a Presidential candidate other than Ruto, his second in command.

Already there are indications that the President is determined to have the Nasa principals of Raila, Kalonzo and Musalia stick together.

Unity among the opposition bigwigs would offer Uhuru political cover to in further annihilate his deputy and foil his presidential ambitions.

Political analyst Javas Bigambo told the Star that the President will most likely come out forcefully to drive his succession battle.

“I think from the manner in which Uhuru has conducted his affairs it is easy to predict he is likely to express his preference on his preferred candidate,” he said.

Governance expert Javas Bigambo
Governance expert Javas Bigambo

Bigambo, however, cautioned that whoever will be endorsed by Uhuru must be ready to carry the baggage of the Jubilee failures and the burden that comes with endorsement by the incumbent.

"However some benefits like the state machinery will be there for whoever will be endorsed," he said.

Former Kasarani MP John Njoroge told the Star that the President has clearly made up his mind that he would want to be part of the succession process.

“It is crystal clear that Uhuru has already started to influence the succession by stating that it will be a different ball game with a preference for a person outside the Kalenjin or Kikuyu communities,” Njoroge said.

The ex-lawmaker, however, maintained that like the Narc wave that swept Kanu out of power in a historic victory by Mwai Kibaki in 2002, the next general election will rekindle the memories.

“Kenya is a democratic country and all that Kenyans would want the President to guarantee them is the freedom to exercise their democratic right to vote for whoever they want,' he said.

Siaya Woman Representative Christine Ombaka in Gem constituency on Monday, March 9, 2020.
Siaya Woman Representative Christine Ombaka in Gem constituency on Monday, March 9, 2020.
Image: Lameck Baraza

But Siaya women representative Christine Ombaka said the President is determined to ensure that his successor will continue with his legacy plans.

"It is no secret that the President is keen to influence the race to succeed him, he knows what is good for the country, and at the right time he will pronounce himself,' she told the Star. 

The President is working closely with Raila, a former political foe-turned-ally after the March 8, 2018 handshake which birthed the Building Bridges Initiative to amend the Constitution.

Raila's supporters hope that Uhuru will anoint him as his successor and avail the state machinery and government apparatus to campaign for the ODM boss next year.

However, there are fears that should Uhuru decide to openly endorse Raila, that would precipitate a massive fall out both in government and Nasa that would hand Ruto an edge.

Others say if Uhuru decided to remain aloof in the next Presidential campaign, then that would hurt Raila and vanquish his prospects to win the 2022 contest.

Unlike Ruto, Raila largely heeded to the President's calls to freeze early 2022 campaigns and has stood with Uhuru amid blistering attacks from Ruto's Tangatanga wing of Jubilee party.

The Building Bridge Initiative is seen as the glue that is holding Uhuru and Raila amid concerns that should the BBI flop, then Raila will desert Uhuru and chart his own path.

Raila has in the last few days stepped up his public engagements and has rolled out an elaborate plan to revamp the ODM party and rejuvenate the grassroots in readiness for the 2022 polls.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu maintained that the President will soon step out and show the country direction.

“The President will not leave this country in the hands of dishonest people,” said Wambugu.

Wambugu said the President will play an active role in securing the future of the country including offering political direction.