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Why Uhuru shelved AU job bid in favour of Raila

 Former President Uhuru Kenyatta and Azimio leader Raila Odinga. [File, Standard]

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta had secured the backing of most of the Eastern African presidents for the Africa Union Commission Chair position before he backed down in favour of Azimio leader Raila Odinga.

According to David Murathe, a close ally of the former president, before Raila declared his interest, Uhuru had already secured support from Ethiopia, South Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania to go for the post.

“Most of those countries in East Africa had declared interest in supporting Uhuru for the AUC job. But he now supports Raila because the Kenyan government has thrown its weight behind him,” said Murathe.

Murathe said Uhuru was not sure the government would have supported him, a factor which was crucial for the success of such a bid, adding that he now fully supports Raila for the top job.

He said that Uhuru had vowed to him that he would support Raila because he was a Kenyan and an ally and that victory for the Azimio leader would be a triumph for the country.

Murathe said that a week before Raila declared his candidature for the AUC job, the two of them met with him at Norfolk’s Hotel where they discussed several things including the 2027 presidential election.

"He told me that the AUC job was part of the talks they had with President William Ruto and former Nigerian President Olusegun Abasanjo at their first meeting in Mombasa last year after the series of deadly rallies,” said Murathe.

“I don’t know who advises Kenya Kwanza. By endorsing Uhuru, they would have cemented the Mount Kenya support base and ensured an easy win for the AUC job and still have a strong Opposition to check on the government,” said Murathe.

He said it was not true that Uhuru supported former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete for the AUC job against Raila and termed those allegations acts of political detractors.

The Uhuru ally said in their conversation, Raila insinuated that he still could have a stab at the Presidency in 2027 even after winning the AUC job, a matter he said he disagreed with him.

“I told him that he needed to endorse someone else because it was not possible to run in 2027 if he won the AUC job which was a four-year term that would end in March 2027. He seemed to believe that he could still contest,” said Murathe.

He said that Raila was still his candidate if he contested in 2027 and would consider supporting Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka if he was the candidate for presidency under Azimio Coalition.

“If Raila is not on the ballot, Kalonzo has better prospects of becoming the single candidate, this should not worry those in power because the voting dynamics will change. Raila is more lethal if he endorses someone,” said Murathe.

On the Mount Kenya politics, Murathe said that most of the leaders in the region knew that Uhuru was still a strong factor in politics and someone to watch. “You saw the other day Uhuru was in Nyeri and Nyadarua for two funerals and the entire region felt him. He only needs to visit the region for a few days and the music will change, its only that he respects those in power now,” said Murathe.

The former Jubilee Vice Chairman said that Kenya Kwanza had the best opportunity to make Kenya great if they implemented part of their manifesto but the administration was fixated on the past instead of focusing on what they needed to put into action.  

“The Kenya Kwanza administration has a better chance of making the country great, they only need to fix their eyes on the ball and stop getting distracted by the past,” said Murathe.

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