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2022 SUCCESSION

The big and not so big names pushing to replace Uhuru

The presidency, the heartbeat of Kenyan politics and power, is an irresistible magnet

In Summary

• Top of the list is Deputy President William Ruto, whom many in the deeply divided Jubilee Party, say is the face of the early campaigns and arguably one of the front runners.

• Though he has not publicly declared, Baringo Senator Gideon Moi is also expected to stand.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto at State House, Nairobi
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto at State House, Nairobi
Image: PSCU

With 38 months to the next General Election, the list of men seeking to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta seems to grow by the day.

The presidency, the heartbeat of Kenyan politics and power, is a magnet.

Already, there are dusty fields following early campaigns — called ‘meet-the-people’ tours — by those seeking to occupy the House on the Hill.

 

 

Atop the list is Deputy President William Ruto, whom many in the deeply divided Jubilee Party say is the face of the early campaigns and arguably one of the front runners.

Former Prime Minister and ODM leader Raila Odinga, though has kept the county in suspense over his 2022 game plan, is expected to throw his hat in the ring in his final stab at the top seat.

The AU special envoy for infrastructure has made four unsuccessful attempts at the presidency, despite enjoying huge following across the country. His close allies have however maintained that the ODM supremo will be on the ballot to replace Uhuru, with whom he has struck a working relationship after the protracted poll battle in 2017.

Though he has not declared it in public, Baringo Senator Gideon Moi is also expected to stand.

When approached by the Star on the 2022 question, the Kanu chairman dismissed the claims saying, he has not announced his bid.

Watu ndio wanasema lakini mimi sijatangaza (It is people saying so (that) I have announced my bid),” said the lawmaker, who has been lately mastering his Kiswahili ostensibly for the expected gruelling campaign.

 

Gideon who like Uhuru is a scion of a resident — Daniel Moi — has recently been traversing the country fundraisings in what many believe is a test of the political waters ahead of his debut.

The legislator has in the last year taken his charm offensive to the Coast, Nyanza, Western, Northeastern and he has made numerous trips to the vote-rich Rift Valley.

Former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka of Wiper, Amani leader Musalia Mudavadi, governors Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Hassan Joho (Mombasa) and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria are among individuals who have either announced or shown interest in being the next president.

Some could be angling for the Number Two spot on the ticket.

Others who are likely, though et to declare, are Thirdway Alliance leader Ekuru Aukot and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula.

POLITICAL CEASEFIRE

Campaigns have, however, been slowed down following President Kenyatta’s plea for a political ceasefire to allow him to entrench his legacy.

In separate interviews with the Star, the leaders said they generally want a Kenya that is free of debt and free of corruption.

Kalonzo, who vied for President and finished a distant third in 2007 is gearing up for a second run. The Wiper boss has maintained he will not play second fiddle to any candidate in 2022 and will present himself as a candidate. He was Raila’s running mate in the 2013 and 2017 polls.

Wiper Party executive director Jared Siso told the Star that the party will field a presidential candidate and “will not consider any arrangement that pushes us an inch away from the seat of power”.

KALONZO BID

Kalonzo, who vied for President and finished a distant third in 2007 is gearing up for a second run. The Wiper boss has maintained he will not play second fiddle to any candidate in 2022 and will present himself as a candidate. He was Raila’s running mate in the 2013 and 2017 polls.

Even with a possible change of government structure in an impending referendum, Kalonzo has maintained that in whichever environment, he will go for nothing but the country's CEO. Like other presidential candidates, Kalonzo has been traversing the country to consolidate his support base.

He has mainly gone to the Coast and Central Kenya, where he was hosted by area leaders.

Joho, who argues he is the best bet to succeed Uhuru, says he would unite the country through an all-inclusive leadership that gives equal opportunity to women and youth. The Mombasa governor has not been on the campaign trail, probably not to disappoint his boss, Raila, who after the March 9, 2018, handshake has warned against premature campaigns.

Joho, an ODM deputy leader, has maintained a low-key second term. His last appearance was when accompanied Gideon to a fundraiser after visiting retired President Moi in Kabarak.

In a statement by county communications director Richard Chacha, the governor said he wants an increase in the share of national revenue disbursed to counties.

“I intend to devote more resources to the Equalisation Fund so that areas that are marginalised or lagging behind in development can catch up,” Joho said.

He added that he will also push for core state facilities, such as Mombasa Port and the Turkana Oil fields, to generate income for residents.

For his part, Mudavadi said he is a safe pair of hands for Kenyans, especially in the face of mismanagement by Jubilee.

“Kenyans are also seeing the issues of mismanagement by Jubilee. As such, they want to change; they want a safe pair of hands. They want somebody they can believe in,” the Amani leader said.

“I believe I have a lot that I can offer this country. I have the requisite experience and 2022 is clearly my year. I believe in myself, I have the confidence that Kenyans have had an opportunity to now look at some of the characters that are planning to contest.”

Mudavadi has been a Cabinet minister, and Vice President and Deputy Prime Minister.

Oparanya says he threw his hat in the ring on the grounds that he is a compromise candidate for Kenyans tired of ‘recycled leadership’. His take on the presidency is hinged on the need for unity and for an end to the extremes that are likely to be posed in a contest that pits Ruto against Raila.

The Kakamega county boss’ rise to become chairman of the Council of Governors has added impetus to his bid, giving it national appeal.

He is banking on his development record, among the projects being the multi-billion referral hospital, the upgraded Bukhungu Stadium, modern markets, and at least 14 bridges as the key selling points.

Kuria said his focus will be on a stable taxation regime that applies to all and sundry — not one where the poor are taxed for the comfort of the rich. Also expected to join the already crowded field is 2017 Thirdway Alliance presidential candidate Ekuro Aukot.