Year of politics begets strange bedfellows, but for how long?

President Uhuru Kenyatta with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga. (File, Standard)
Uhuru Kenyatta was elected President of Kenya for a second and final term in August of 2017 after a campaign that faded in effort and rhetoric in comparison to his ascendancy to the job in 2013.

But, just like in the previous election, the results of his victory were contested. Unlike in 2013, they were eventually nullified by the country’s highest court, setting him on a collision course with Raila Odinga, the Opposition chief with whom he has a much publicised love-hate relationship.

Now, with barely a fifth of his final term done, President Kenyatta and his nemesis have decided to give love a chance and work towards the common purpose of a peaceful country.

Currently, the two are on the love-end of their yoyo-ing relationship, a mésalliance to some Kenyans. This blossoming bro-mance has left dozens of former jesters in their courts in a forced, complicated situationship.

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After the nullification of his election, a visibly angry president embarked on a whirlwind tour of the country during which he continuously referred to the Judiciary, an institution he said was in bed with the Opposition and was hell bent on changing the will of the people, as wakora.

In the heat of the moment, he vowed to “revisit” the Judiciary, a statement that pundits interpreted as a vow to dismantle the other arm of Government.

Today though, the presidency and the Judiciary seem to have made up and are reading from the same script over a number of issues, key among them the fight against graft. From pulling in different directions barely 12 months ago, the bad blood between the two arms seem to be water under the bride.

Off-key notes

The Judiciary is not the only institution that looks to have made up with Uhuru.

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Politicians, once fierce critics of the Jubilee regime, seem to have fallen in line and are now marching to the tune of the State House orchestra, even if some of its notes are off-key. Understandably, many of these are following in the footsteps of their party leader.

One of them, Suna East MP Junet Mohammed, has found himself in the strange position of agreeing with an Executive he has differed with for the duration he has been an MP.

His current mood is similar to that of Suba’s John Mbadi, the National Assembly Leader of Minority, who has turned from a pioneer anti-Uhuru crusader to a vociferous defender of the Government.

The other side of the political divide too is facing a similar situation. Before, during and immediately after the 2017 General Election, Jubilee MPs were falling over themselves to push daggers in the Opposition body politik.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, who it has been pointed out could have lived unknown, unheard and unread were it not for Raila, was among those who led this relentless onslaught. Now, he too finds himself talking up the statesmanship of Raila, at whose feet he made his bones, and later turned in to a political punching bag.

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Others, like Moses Kuria, who might have been among the most recognisable but least likeable individuals in Raila’s political strongholds can now easily and freely mingle with the people of Kisumu on a random day out, taking time to ride around town on boda bodas. Usually divided along party lines, politicians have now found a reason to coalesce around each other. The spirit of the handshake seems to have brought down the walls of tribe, cronyism and corruption that had been put up around the country.

Succession politics

Although the year is turning out to be one of love, some discontent has crept in over the past year and the red ties and white shirts that once bound President Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto seem to be getting old.

“This has complicated the 2022 equation for the Deputy President because Raila will now be at the centre of succession politics,” political analyst Macharia Munene says.

If a year in politics is too long a time, then four years is an eternity. And although it might seem that the faults in the country’s political scars have been peppered over, history has shown that the peace might not hold.

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And it will not be shocking to see these strangebedfellows turn on each other in the coming days, months or years. Nothing is impossible in Kenyan politics where permanency remains an alien concept and fluidity is a mantra the players live by.

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