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Uhuru changes tack in Kibaki succession

BUSINESS
By | Jan 9th 2011 | 3 min read
By | January 9th 2011
BUSINESS

By Alex Ndegwa

In an apparent response to regional concerns over the lack of a clear Kibaki succession strategy and exhortation he demonstrates leadership, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta has embarked on a series of secret grassroots meetings.

The latest foray by Mr Uhuru, who also holds the Finance docket, is Wednesday’s meeting with seven MPs and Kikuyu elders in his father’s Gicheha Farm in Nakuru. The agenda for the talks included the 2012 succession politics and Uhuru’s predicament with the International Criminal Court, which poses a setback to his presidential bid.

Secret talks

Delegations to the meeting, which reached nine-point resolutions obtained by The Sunday Standard, came from Nakuru, Laikipia, Uasin Gishu, Kericho, Trans Mara, Baringo, Bungoma and Narok counties.

The event came six weeks after Uhuru’s meeting with about 600 councillors from Rift Valley, Central and Eastern provinces in his rural home of Ichaweri in Gatundu.

Uhuru’s father and first President Jomo Kenyatta preferred the place for delegations, but little public activity, especially political, has been known to occur at the place since his death.

Uhuru has intensified the secret talks since the exhortation by the Gikuyu, Embu, Meru Association (Gema) during a meeting in June last year that he becomes aggressive in courting grassroots support with a view to succeeding President Kibaki.

on Saturday, the Finance minister’s aides indicated he has planned more regional meetings with various interest groups, seen as a move to consolidate grassroots support.

"He will be holding forums with women, the youth, small scale business men/women, professionals, farmers and other disadvantaged groups like people with special needs," said a statement released by the director of communication at the office of the DPM and Minister for Finance Munyori Buku.

At the Gema meeting attended by majority MPs from the Mt Kenya region and those from Rift Valley and Nairobi who trace their roots to the region, the need to chart a new political course featured.

Recent pronouncement by the straight shooting Environment Minister John Michuki to the effect Uhuru is the undisputed leader of the Kikuyu and anyone interested in engaging the community on any matter should do it through him explain the heightened activity in the Uhuru camp.

In a more blunt fashion, Michuki threatened any person who dared challenge the authority of Uhuru in Central Kenya would be fought politically. As expected, Gichugu MP Martha Karua, the regionÌs fiercely independent lone ranger, fired back, dismissing those issuing such tribal edicts as stuck in the past. Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, who has sought to challenge the Gatundu South MPÌs supremacy, was widely seen as the other recipient of the tongue-lashing.

Political future

Instructively, Uhuru has taken the cue after the caution to the region’s leaders against gambling with the region’s political future by creating disharmony through competing interests and failing to redress the isolation the community faced in the 2007 poll.

Uhuru’s choice of venues for the preliminary meetings seen as preparations for his second shot at the presidency is not lost on observers. The meeting with the councillors revived talk of the ‘KKK alliance’ as among those present were civic leaders from Nakuru, Uasin Gishu and Kericho counties, areas perceived to be Eldoret North MP William RutoÌs strongholds.

In the meeting at Gicheha farm, it was resolved the community supports the quest to have Uhuru cleared of any wrongdoing "for his support to IDPs" by the ICC. ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has named Uhuru among six suspected masterminds of post-election violence.

The Nakuru meeting resolved to "take all the necessary legal actions to have Uhuru removed from the list of Ocampo six".

Taking one political stand for a common goal, the call to Uhuru to spearhead other meetings in all counties in the former Rift Valley and support to his presidential bid were other resolutions.

The unfinished business with the ICC places hurdles on Uhuru’s path to State House. The Kanu chairman hopes the ICC judges, who are due to decide in March whether the prosecutor has a case against the suspects, reject the application.

But besides unity among themselves, the meeting stressed co-operation with ‘host’ communities in the Rift Valley because they have invested heavily in the region and risk losing property and lives should tribal clashes recur.

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