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Tension in G7 over new plot

By - | Jun 24th 2012 | 6 min read


Powerful State agents are pushing to have Mr Musalia Mudavadi and Mr Uhuru Kenyatta run together in the first round of the upcoming General Election. Other leaders in the G7 Alliance are to be prevailed upon to support this ticket.

Allies of the Deputy PMs say the pressure for the pairing is coming from their supporters at the grassroots. Rivals, however, see a hidden hand at work.

An earlier plan to have G7 alliance candidates test the waters first and then come together in the second round will be dropped in favour of the new scheme.

Sources say it will see Uhuru prevailed upon to be Mudavadi’s runningmate, with Ruto being offered a place as Leader of the Majority in the House. The plot is not without its detractors, particularly in the Uhuru camp.  “Mudavadi and his group should stop this wishful thinking that Uhuru will be cajoled into stepping down after a cup of tea or boardroom chat,” says Assistant Minister Kareke Mbiuki.

Fellow Assistant Minister Nderitu Muriithi concedes that talks are ongoing, but says nothing has been decided yet.

“It is very early for the formation to be clear, but I can tell you that these leaders are always talking,” the Laikipia West MP said.

The brains behind the strategy believe it is the best plan to defeat the frontrunner, Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Buoyed by support from key Kibaki insiders, teams working with the two Deputy Prime Ministers are said to be crafting a formula that could end up in a pre-election deal featuring Mudavadi and Uhuru as partnersto push for a first round victory against the PM. 

Top civil servants known to be very close to Kibaki have been working on the plan, with night meetings at a hotel in Nairobi’s Utawala area, The Standard On Sunday has established. The meetings discuss how to support a Mudavadi campaign and drive the entire PNU side of Government into his camp.

The State operatives, who include top security officials and political scholars, are said to prefer a Mudavadi candidacy to Uhuru’s to avoid an ethnic backlash in the run-off, which could favour an “unwanted” candidate. The move comes amid uncertainty created by Uhuru’s upcoming International Criminal Court (ICC) trial, and other investigations over the 2008 post-election violence.  The new scheme puts to rest a previous working arrangement between Uhuru and Eldoret North MP William Ruto, in which the two would have run alongside each other.

It also comes at about the same time speculation was rising that the Deputy PM might not run for the highest office.  Uhuru’s spokesman Munyori Buku maintains his boss will be on the ballot in the General Election. He says if another leader in the G7 Alliance is nominated freely and fairly, Uhuru is ready to support them. In the same breath, Uhuru expects other leaders to support him if he wins the ticket.

Neighbouring presidents

Meanwhile, Mudavadi has been meeting neighbouring presidents in preparation for a serious run at State House. His latest destination was Tanzania where he met President Jakaya Kikwete last week. In two weeks he will be in Rwanda. At a recent rally he signaled a shift from the run-off strategy to the new plot.

“I want to win in the first round,” Mudavadi said in Malava. “The game must be played within 90 minutes.” Observers say a loaded statement by Uhuru at the funeral of the former Internal Security minister George Saitoti hinted at the on-going manoeuvres. Uhuru said he is willing to put aside his ambition for the sake of the country. The statement and the revelation of an on-going plot to yoke Uhuru and Mudavadi have not gone down well with Ruto, who is working to strengthen his party, United Republican Party (URP). The Eldoret North MP seems to be sticking to the play first drafted by G7 strategists in which each candidate would give it their best shot in the first round, allowing for a joint candidate to emerge “organically” rather than through a pairing. Yesterday, Ruto was campaigning in Mandera after returning to the country from a foreign trip. Today, he will be in Wajir and later Garissa. When reached for comment, Ruto was non-committal on the latest development. Ruto said he was going ahead with his campaigns and was pleased URP is making inroads in North Eastern Kenya.

“I’m moving on with my party campaigns... As I’m talking to you now, (Wajir West MP Adan) Keynan and (Wajir South’s Mohammed) Sirat have joined URP,” he said. Ruto refused to be drawn into talking about the talks between Uhuru and Musalia. But key ally and Belgut MP Charles Keter said they were not in the arrangement adding that their focus was to popularise URP.

“We are not worried about that plot if Uhuru is working with Mudavadi we can also negotiate with others,” said Keter. The Belgut MP further said that URP can negotiate but only with parties and individuals willing to talk based on their worth and political value.His views were, however, in contrast with those of Konoin MP Julius Kones who declared Mudavadi is the man of the moment. “It is now clearer that it was not for nothing that Mudavadi exhibited absolute courage to walk out of ODM,” Kones said. “Now that everybody feels he is the best compromise candidate, I think we may have to convince Ruto to back him.”

Biggest threat

The MP argued that the entry of Mudavadi into the presidential campaign is likely to change the political scenario. Kones, a key strategist in Ruto’s camp, said that though there were no official talks between Ruto and Mudavadi on how to approach the coming elections there will be eventual demands for candidates to sacrifice their own personal interests. The involvement of Prof Nick Wanjohi and a Nyeri political activist in the talks surrounding the Mudavadi-Uhuru pairing has raised eyebrows. Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni, now supporting Mudavadi’s candidature, admits UDF has been in touch with Prof. Wanjohi and other civil servants from time to time.

“Yes, we consult Wanjohi from time to time because he is in the executive and we need his help here and there,” Kioni said. Mudavadi’s new party, formed for Uhuru, has also been linked to most of Kibaki’s men, including his nephew Laikipia West MP assistant minister Nderitu Muriithi. Kioni, however, said there was no agreement yet on who between Uhuru and Mudavadi should be the other’s running mate.

He added that it was their supporters who are demanding that they combine forces. “If Uhuru and Mudavadi run against each other then they should know that Raila will win without any doubt.

 The biggest threat to a Raila presidency is Mudavadi and no one else,” Kioni said. Assistant Minister Kareke Mbiuki, however, dismisses claims that Uhuru was about to step down for Mudavadi adding that though the Deputy PM was willing to cede grounds such a move can only happen after he is defeated through a voting process.

“Mudavadi and his group should stop this wishful thinking that Uhuru will be cajoled into stepping down after a cup of tea or boardroom chat,” Mbiuki stated. “This will not happen.”

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