By Isaac Ongiri
Raphael Tuju resigned as presidential advisor on ethnic and media relations on Friday, and is on Sunday expected to join the presidential race.
But the former Minister for Foreign Affairs’ plot is already being seen as a State House’s strategy to scuttle Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s 2012 game plan. Former foreign Affairs minister Raphael Tuju
Former foreign Affairs minister Raphael Tuju
State House operatives are said to have masterminded Tuju’s resignation, as part of a plan to have an alternative candidate if Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta’s charges at the International Criminal Court are confirmed. Confirmation hearings of cases facing Uhuru, Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura, former Police Commissioner Hussein Ali, former Cabinet ministers William Ruto, Henry Kosgey and radio presenter, Joshua arap Sang’ are set for next month.
And the President accepted the resignation of a most loyal defender outside Central Province.
This gave room for Tuju’s big day this morning. He is expected to announce his 2012 presidential bid as an independent candidate.
"Yes, I have resigned as the President’s advisor. I will make an important announcement on Sunday at 11am," Tuju told The Standard On Sunday.
Tuju’s entry is seen as plot to change the game for the Prime Minister seen as the favourite against rivals under the G-7 banner. A clique of the President’s advisors expects the Kikuyu nation to embrace a Tuju presidency, as an alternative to Uhuru’s.
To them, another Kikuyu candidate running just after President Kibaki’s 10-year rule is mission impossible.
"They have been trying to persuade Uhuru to tone down so that someone from another community can be supported then we can get it back later, but he has refused," said an official from Harambee House.
And their game played out early this week when the advisors are said to have blocked the elevation of Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa. This was intended to send a message to Uhuru, who is said to have negotiated for Wamalwa to replace Sirisia MP Moses Wetangula in the Cabinet to strengthen the G7 alliance.
Asked whether President Kibaki endorses his bid, Tuju said, "I have resigned as the President’s advisor. I no longer speak for him."
Tuju, however, said he is entering the race with knowledge of the political challenges in Nyanza. But he says his "realistic" presidential chances will change people’s hearts.
"I know I am a safe pair of hands. My leadership would not be reckless, or impulsive or just a populist," he adds.
"Dreaming is free and it is very much his right. But if the intension is to distract us, then we can only be seeing a man taking a very expensive route to a bitter and painful disappointment," Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo, who defeated Tuju in the 2007 parliamentary election, said.
Organisers of Tuju’s presidential launch at the Laico Regency Hotel this morning, hinted at a well-crafted event, with a well-designed political statement. Some ministers and former MPs are expected at the event.
On Sunday ODM Secretary General Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o described Tuju’s arrival in the presidential competition as something he has been hearing about.
"I have been hearing about this thing, but it was supposed to be a business deal he struck," Prof Nyong’o told The Standard On Sunday.
Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo dismissed it as nothing serious, but warns it could be a ploy to split the Nyanza votes.
"We know, as usual, he is being used. We have been hearing about this. Whoever is using him thinks he can disorganise Raila’s presidential plan. This will not happen," Midiwo said.
The legislator said that some of the President’s men believe Tuju can fit in Uhuru’s shoe and that if the Gatundu MP is indicted then he can inherit the Kikuyu vote and split the Luo vote to scuttle the PM’s chances.
A Kenyatta University lecturer Prof Akong’o Oyugi, an ally of the PM, described Tuju’s presidential ambition as a waste of time.
Chairman of the Nyanza Parliamentary Group and Migori MP John Pesa said the former Rarieda MP’s entry into the presidential race would collapse. That Tuju has been up to something larger than advising the President has been obvious. Early this month, he hosted Muslim leaders for dinner at his residence in Karen, Nairobi, to break the fast for the Holy Month of Ramathan.