PRESIDENTIAL RACE

OMWENGA: Why Ruto should step down for Raila in 2022

Age wise, Ruto has better chances of being President than Raila

In Summary

• There is no doubt the leading contenders for the 2022 elections are former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto and this is not in dispute.

• Question is, should Raila and Ruto go head on in the 2022 elections and put the country in what is likely to be another bare-knuckle contest?

Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga in 2018
Raila verses Ruto Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga in 2018
Image: FILE

Generally, a candidate concedes to the winner of a contest they were involved as an opponent.

However, there are occasions when a qualified candidate gives up their quest for elected office in favour of a rival. This is usually done through arrangement between the leading contenders, and often involving monetary compensation for the one giving up their quest.

There is no doubt the leading contenders for the 2022 elections are former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and this is not in dispute.

Question is, should Raila and Ruto go head on in the 2022 elections and put the country in what is likely to be another bare-knuckle contest in which the ODM leader is more likely to be sworn as the next president, regardless of how Ruto performs?

Yes, Raila has assured the nation that the 2022 elections will be fair and peaceful.

"I can assure you that the election for president will be free and fair as Uhuru and are committed to liberating this country to where our forefathers wanted it to be," he said.

That is reassuring but this is Kenya where elections are determined in highly charged and tribalism driven emotionalism.

While traditionally the Kikuyu have voted as a bloc for their sons, in 2022 that will not be the case.

Ruto will likely have a sizable piece of the vote bloc and likely even more than Raila.

Put another way, Ruto has the hoi-polloi vote from the community, Raila has the monied and those in power from the region—and we know the latter always determine who gets sworn as President regardless of what happens at the polls.

This presents a unique scenario whereby Ruto has a strong showing in many parts of Mt Kenya region as well as the Rift valley such that few among his ardent followers will believe he lost or can lose to Raila.

Even assuming no violence following the elections, it will remain the case Ruto supporters will not accept a Raila victory, which means we will continue to have a very divided country, a situation we are trying to put behind.

The solution is for Ruto to pave way for Raila by either not vying or having a “technical,” presidential run, meaning, not mounting a serious campaign and position himself as the opposition leader.

This will in turn mean Ruto will leave to fight another day rather than putting the country through a highly contentious election.

Some may argue that Raila should throw in the towel ahead of the elections in favour of Ruto or someone else but there are several reasons that make that argument less compelling.

First, Raila is a veteran of the opposition who has vied and won the presidency at least twice but was rigged out. We owe him the presidency not just because of being rigged out, but also because he is still popular across the country.

Second, there is the age factor. All communities in the country favour wazees when it comes to leadership. At 76 years, Raila still has it in both leadership and sharpness, with no sign of either of those dissipating even after his being sworn as president.

Ruto, on the other hand, is only 54, 55 in December, which means were he to bail out and have Raila have a smooth way to State House, he will have multiple opportunities to become president unlike Raila.

Ruto giving up his presidential quest for 2022 under these circumstances is the right thing to; just do it Mr Deputy President.

Samuel Omwenga is a legal analyst and political commentator