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Tuju joins presidential race to check Raila

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Updated Sun, August 28th 2011 at 00:00 GMT +3

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

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.

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