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Political families regroup, rattle friend and foe

By Steve Mkawale | Published Sat, April 14th 2018 at 00:00, Updated April 14th 2018 at 12:43 GMT +3
Baringo Senator Gideon Moi welcomes former Prime Minister Raila Odinga when he visited retired President Daniel Arap Moi in Kabarak on 12-4-2018. [David Kanda, Standard]

In summary

  • Speculation is rife that the Kenyattas, Mois and the Odingas are planning a major political move that would impact on President Uhuru’s succession in 2022
  • Aside from stabilising political environment, analysts believe they may be trying to identify a suitable Uhuru successor

?Coming in the backdrop of the famous handshake on the steps of Harambee House, Thursday’s meeting between NASA leader Raila Odinga and retired President Daniel arap Moi has shaken the political landscape to the core.

Hanging in between the two meetings -- the first between Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta and the second one at the Kabarak residence of former President Moi -- is the political fate of Deputy President William Ruto, Kenyatta’s supposed heir-apparent.

Despite lack of finer details as to the import of the two meetings, speculation is rife that the Kenyattas, Mois and the Odingas are planning a major political move that would impact on President Uhuru’s succession in 2022 to the detriment of Ruto.

Ultimate power

The DP’s political allies are however pouring cold water on the significance of Thursday’s meeting to their quest for ultimate power.

“Those visiting Mzee Moi are allowed to go and tell him ‘pole (sorry)’ because he served us for 24 years. But those who intend to be in the 2022 race... you don’t need such visits... You need to face us who are now on the other side,” said National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale. Pundits aver that the level of investments the three political establishments have in the country is such that stability is the fulcrum upon which their political interest must revolve, hence the closing of the ranks.

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Suitable successor

Aside from stabilising the political environment for the present, they may also be trying to identify a suitable successor to President Kenyatta, one who will not only steer the country to a stable path but also take care of their interests.

“If Raila intends to vie for the presidency again in the 2022 presidential election, he may want to assure the Moi and Kenyatta families that he would take care of their interests if he wins,” Philip Chebunet, a political communication expert and lecturer at the University of Eldoret says.

But Dr Chebunet is quick to add that the meeting between Moi and Raila could have just been a normal occurrence without much political intonation or relevance.

“The meeting is normal. For Raila to go and visit Mzee Moi after his medical treatment abroad, I don’t think there is any political motive, the country and the Jubilee leadership is now busy in delivering the ‘big four agenda’,” he says.

A running thread in Raila’s political career is the fear of retribution pegged on his relentless attempts at capturing state power. Together with his father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, their political paths have always crossed the Kenyattas and the Mois.

Uhuru’s father Jomo Kenyatta thwarted the senior Odinga’s presidential ambitions while Moi’s government jailed his son twice. Much later and in the sunset days of Moi’s presidency, Raila closed ranks with Moi for a moment before fleeing Kanu for Mwai Kibaki-led Narc.

Although they parted over the Kanu presidential ticket for 2002 presidential poll, Kenyatta and Raila soon thereafter reunited in Opposition benches before parting again in the run-up to the 2007 poll.

According to historian Walter Chesang, the meeting between Moi and Raila has everything to do with the 2022 succession politics.

“Those who think that Raila went to wish Mzee Moi speedy recovery are not critical thinkers and do not understand the political dynamics in this country. The Kenyattas, the Mois and the Odingas run this country’s politics and they will determine who becomes the next President after Uhuru,” he predicted.

Mr Chesang, who lecturers in various universities, reckons that Raila has finally realised confrontation politics cannot propel him to power, hence his change of tact to address fear raised by the big boys.

“He wants to build a good relationship with everyone who matters and use it in 2022 either as a presidential candidate or a kingmaker. He did that with Kibaki (Mwai) in 2007 and he succeeded. He can do it again,” opines Chesang.

Uhuru succession

Kanu, the Independence party that is now headed by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, was categorical that the meeting was about the 2022 politics. 

“Raila being received by Gideon Moi at Kabarak. 2022 politics starting to take shape. Senator Moi prominently at the centre stage,” a tweet issued by the party read.

Immediately after arriving in Nairobi from Kabarak, Raila held talks with Senate Minority leader James Orengo and his trusted lieutenants to brief them on what they discussed.

“He might be contemplating quitting active politics and play a role of a kingmaker. Kenya did not hear the last of Tosha in 2002,” says Johanna Ng’eno, Emurua Dikirr MP.

Ng’eno, who won the seat on Kanu ticket, says the country’s political landscape is changing dramatically, arguing that it is too early to safely conclude who will succeed Uhuru.

Last week, William Kamket, the Tiaty MP who also attended the Kabarak meeting, led a delegation to Senator Moi’s home where 2022 politics was discussed with Gideon being told to contest the presidency.

Yesterday, Salat -- who declined to divulge details -- said the meeting was “candid and good”, asking Kenyans to patiently wait for it to bear “fruits”. “It was a good meeting. That is all I can say for now,” said Salat.

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