Could this explain his delayed entry into the presidential race?
The talk gained credence after both made separate secret visits to the rural home of media mogul, SK Macharia in January.
Saitoti and SK worked closely in the 1990s as senior members of the Central Province Development Support Group to counter the Opposition’s onslaught of Kanu in the region. Saitoti travelled to Ndaka-ini alone. Oburu Oginga, the PM’s elder brother, and Wilfred Kiboro, a former Saitoti classmate and media executive, accompanied Raila. Whatever strategy, if any, was in play was never to emerge.
Despite the agreement with Uhuru and Kalonzo, Saitoti kept his distance from the informal G7 Alliance as he went on the road to rally support. This may have been because he was seen as a potential Raila ally or because of his politically awkward role as the Government’s link with the International Criminal Court (ICC).
As with Kalonzo’s bid, Uhuru’s camp was suspicious Saitoti’s campaign was premised on assumption the ICC may knock the Deputy PM and his ally, Eldoret North MP, William Ruto, out of the contest.
But if that happened, his appeal to central Kenya and Rift Valley constituencies would be weakened by his perceived role in their misery.
As chairman of the Cabinet committee on the ICC and Minister of State, Saitoti served as the guarantor to the ICC that the Government would ensure they attend trial. While the accused have shown no sign they would evade summonses, it helped that he did not show the kind of enthusiasm former Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo had for a speedy road to justice and away from the ballot box.
The lead role in ICC duties, evaded skillfully by Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa, will now fall on others, changing the dynamics of the presidential race and affecting allincs.
“The ICC question is yet to be fully settled,” says a PNU insider, citing a call in the current edition of the Economist magazine for more Western pressure to stop Uhuru and Ruto from running.
“Kenyans are yet to see how far the European Union and Washington are willing to go on the matter.”
In recent days, the late Internal Security minister was increasingly being viewed as the de facto second-in-command in the PNU coalition power hierarchy. This followed the death of John Michuki, and the relegation from the centre of Ambassador Francis Muthaura and Uhuru.
Muthaura, once tagged the ‘shadow president’ over the powers Kibaki delegated to him as Head of Civil Service, and Uhuru, a Deputy PM and once holder of the key Finance docket, were forced out of the inner circle after charges against them at the International Criminal Court (ICC) were confirmed in January. Michuki, one of Saitoti’s Office of the President predecessors, remained influential, even as ill health saw him move to less demanding dockets until his death in February.
In their absence, it fell on Prof Saitoti to take a bigger role in the Kibaki court, even as he ran the powerful and pivotal homeland security docket, customarily only held by the most trusted lieutenants.