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Wikileaks: VP a self-interested opportunist

BUSINESS
By | Mar 4th 2011 | 4 min read
By | March 4th 2011
BUSINESS

By Beauttah Omanga

US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger views Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka as a political opportunist.

The latest cables released by WikiLeaks also indicate the VP expressed concerns about the health of President Kibaki, and the negative impact on the electoral process should Kibaki experience a health crisis before the elections.

According to Ranneberger, Kalonzo knew he had no chance of winning the presidency in 2007, but strategically placed himself in vantage point for 2012.

"Though Musyoka presents himself as a born-again Christian with the purest of political intentions, keen observers see him as largely an opportunist interested primarily in advancing his political ambitions," wrote Ranneberger.

The envoy concluded his assessment of the VP as a political lightweight.

"Though Musyoka is polished and glib, some astute observers consider him an intellectual lightweight. Thus far he has not presented a credible national political agenda."

The reports expose Kalonzo’s alleged desire to use external forces to prevail upon President Kibaki to step down on health grounds.

"Musyoka seriously suggested that President Bush should call Kibaki to urge him to step aside. If Kibaki were to pull out, Musyoka contended, he would receive much of the support Kibaki had received (based on the traditional close ties between Kibaki’s Kikuyu community and Musyoka’s much smaller Kamba community)," noted Ranneberger.

A confidential report sent by the ambassador but on a different date says that Kalonzo stated flatly that Kenya would clearly be better off with Kibaki for another five-year term, than with Prime Minister Raila Odinga as President.

Asked the possibility of switching to support Kibaki before the elections, Kalonzo replied that doing so would amount to political suicide for him.

The WikiLeaks also indicate Kalonzo considered joining President Kibaki even prior to the last General Election.

A Kibaki win

"He could still choose to shift support to Kibaki before the ballots are printed, probably ensuring a Kibaki win, but there remains very little time for him to do so."

It went on: "He could stay in the race, but modulate his campaign to position himself to support a coalition government if it looks like Kibaki would win, but without a stable parliamentary majority."

Reached for comment, the VP’s spokesman Kaplich Barsito downplayed the leaks, terming them unrealistic.

"It is unfortunate that Ranneberger, contrary to his mission as his country’s representative, has wasted his time collecting rumours and passing them off as substantive diplomatic intelligence," he said.

Speaking from Eldoret where he accompanied the VP to an official function, Barsito said the VP was concerned at the timing of the leaks, saying they had political intentions.

"The latest WikiLeaks making wild allegations on the person of the Vice-President should be treated with the contempt they deserve, as the product of a very creative mind, whose purpose is to drive a wedge between the President and his deputy," said the spokesman.

As per the WikiLeaks, the ambassador pressed Kalonzo on his strategy for the electoral campaign, of which the VP "offered nothing concrete, instead focusing on a litany of complaints about Kibaki and the other main presidential aspirant, Raila Odinga (ODM)".

The reports claim he indicated that if elected, Raila would become "another Chavez" because he was heavily influenced by socialism during his studies as a teenager in East Germany.

He also allegedly argued that the election of Raila would lead to substantial instability fomented by Kibaki’s ethnic Kikuyu supporters.

Dramatic action

The youth, Kalonzo said, believe that a Raila victory would be a "revolution" (in the sense of dramatic action against corruption and improvement in social services and other areas) and will be impatient for results.

The leaks further say that the VP hoped to work with President Kibaki.

"Kibaki will need to form a coalition government if he is elected, and I am ready to participate," Musyoka declared, as per the reports.

However, when the ambassador raised the hypothetical scenario of Kibaki offering Kalonzo the promise of the vice-presidency if elected, he did not deny that this could influence him to shift to support Kibaki before the General Election.

The reports further say that the VP said the heir-apparent of the Kikuyu community — Uhuru Kenyatta — had tentatively agreed to run as VP on a 2012 Kalonzo ticket.

The envoy then, in his conclusion, noted that obtaining this sort of Kikuyu support for 2012 would require Kalonzo to be supportive of Kibaki now — switching support before the election, or tilting the balance in a coalition government following the elections.

"If Kenyatta has truly agreed to serve as Musyoka’s running mate in 2012, this would be due to a calculation that the majority of the Kenyan electorate would not accept a Kikuyu President (Kibaki) being followed immediately by another Kikuyu President (Kenyatta), requiring Kenyatta to bide his time during a Kalonzo interregnum."

 

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