By Stephen Makabila
The jostling for pre-election deals, compromise candidates, and alliances has taken a back seat as presidential hopefuls continue with pre-campaign activities.
But with recent developments throwing a run-off strategy in doubt, those in the race to State House may find themselves back at the drawing board.
The uncertainty comes as the frontrunner, ODM’s Raila Odinga, weathers a storm unleashed by a former aide who has published a book alleging abuse of office and involvement in economic crimes.
The Prime Minister has not yet responded to claims by former advisor Miguna Miguna in the book, Peeling Back the Mask, which will be launched officially in Nairobi today. It is unclear whether a response promised by his office will be made available before he leaves the country on Monday for a 10-day official visit to China. Raila will attend an ODM women’s convention today, his only public engagement for the weekend.
Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka has picked on Raila’s woes to push a stronger line on ending high-level corruption. Dismissing the PM as a “fake reformer”, the VP took his bold attacks to various stops in Machakos, Kitui and Makueni counties.
He concludes his tour of lower Eastern today, with a rally in Mwingi. Kalonzo’s efforts appear to have backfired with Water Minister Charity Ngilu, who had appeared to be drifting away from Raila, expressing support for the PM’s candidature. Ngilu, who has fought Kalonzo in Ukambani frequently, was even reported to have offered to run as Raila’s running mate in the 2013 election in a private meeting at the PM’s office. She has, however, denied this.
Leaders associated with the informal G7 grouping this weekend continue their efforts to build their support bases ahead of the General Election. They may continue to push generation change messages, attack Raila’s credentials like Kalonzo, or deal with some of the doubts about their strategy.
The G7 leaders broke away from joint rallies some time back and are pressing ahead with separate campaigns to popularise their parties. In recent weeks, they have concentrated on growing support in their home turfs. This seems to confirm a plan for individual presidential runs in the first round, allowing the strongest candidate to earn their backing in a run-off vote.
A fortnight ago, Eldoret North MP William Ruto spoke of the new plan.
“As it stands, we will all meet at the ballot box,” Ruto said. “Each one of us is selling his party to the people in readiness for the elections.”
Efforts to pressure the G7 into a pre-election deal are believed to have led to rifts and infighting some weeks ago, resulting in the change of strategy. But the prospect of two key leaders – Ruto and Deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta – tied up in court and pre-trial preparation has cast doubt on this approach.