With elections six months away, Musalia and Wamalwa are racing against time to have Uhuru's ear and possible endorsement as his running mate or replacement should he not run for president, leaving key central Kenya counties up for grabs
By Oscar Obonyo
Allies of United Democratic Forum leader Musalia Mudavadi are angling for him to elbow his way back into an apparently stalled deal with TNA’s Uhuru Kenyatta over who gets to run for president with the other’s support.
They see the two Deputy Prime Ministers as the most formidable pairing with a strong chance of delivering a viable presidential candidate from western Kenya. In pursuit of their goal, they are keen to push aside Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa, who has Uhuru’s public blessing as the G7 pointman in the region.
They say voters are ready for Mudavadi’s candidacy, which offers an alternative to central Kenya domination as well as to divisive politics. Despite a secret pledge to Wamalwa in April, Uhuru could find himself in the enviable if delicate position of having to choose between Musalia and Eugene.
The Gatundu South MP’s game plan could be to keep the door open to both Mudavadi and Wamalwa, despite strongly hinting he wants the Saboti MP as his running mate.
While Wamalwa and Uhuru have been connected under the informal G7 arrangement, Mudavadi started gravitating towards the Gatundu South MP’s corner in May, after decamping from Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).
Uhuru and Wamalwa’s dalliance has been very public. While we have received reports of some overtures from Mudavadi to Uhuru, we could not independently establish whether the two Deputy PMs have had any meetings to discuss a joint strategy since Musalia left ODM.
Housing minister Soita Shitanda, a Mudavadi ally, insists Musalia’s candidacy has never been dependent on anyone’s backing. He says the Sabatia MP opted out of ODM in response to public demand, not because he was anticipating Uhuru’s support.
The minister attributes the widely believed notion of the DPM as a “compromise candidate”, to the need for change in leadership. He says Kenyans expect a president whose background differs from the three previous holders of the seat.
A few months ago, strategists looking at an Uhuru-Musalia pairing proposed a plan under which the two get ready to run against each other in separate outfits, with a mind to converging after the first ballot. This ‘second round’ plan was, however, allegedly dropped when the setting of trial dates for the International Criminal Court case Uhuru faces introduced new challenges.
The same sources now say Uhuru, 51, and Mudavadi, 51, could still come together before the presidential race.
Wamalwa, however, maintains that Mudavadi is “not part of our game plan”. The minister says that Uhuru, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, and himself will on Thursday finally solidify the G7 pact during the ninth anniversary of Vice-President Michael Kijana Wamalwa’s death.