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Mudavadi fights off Uhuru's endorsement tag for top seat

By Wainaina Ndung'u | January 21st 2021 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Amani party leader Musalia Mudavadi. [File, Standard]

Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi has denied being endorsed by President Uhuru Kenyatta as his successor in 2022.

Yesterday, during a breakfast interview with Kameme FM, and fighting a ghost that has haunted careers since Kenya returned to multiparty politics almost three decades ago, Moi's last vice-president said getting the endorsement of a sitting president comes with its baggage.

"I think it is for this reason that Uhuru has revoked the earlier talk of him serving 10 years and his deputy William Ruto another 10. He realised the harm that a president seen as imposing a person can cause a candidate," said Mudavadi.

As late president Daniel arap Moi's tenure came to an end in 2002, he fished Uhuru from relative obscurity and a humiliating debut run for the Gatundu South parliamentary seat in 1997, nominating him to Parliament and to the Cabinet.

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He had then polished him and abruptly in 2001 endorsed him as his preferred successor, prompting critics to coin the "Uhuru project" tag.

The move opened a battle front within Kanu as party hawks like the former Vice-President George Saitoti and ministers Joseph Kamotho, Simeon Nyachae and Kalonzo Musyoka left for the opposition, alongside Raila Odinga, who had merged his National Development Party (NDP) with the ruling party Kanu.

Kalonzo is now leader of the Wiper Party while Raila is ODM party leader.

Eventually, the bleeding in Kanu cost Uhuru his debut presidential run even with Moi's blessings and hand in the campaigns.

Ten years later, it would be Mudavadi's turn to feel the heat of an endorsement when it was whispered quietly that outgoing President Mwai Kibaki had given him his tactical blessings.

Opinion has lately connected Uhuru's remarks at Mama Hannah Mudavadi's burial in Mululu, Vihiga County some weeks ago, to be an endorsement for Mudavadi's 2022 run.

"As a person, Uhuru is very nice. But under him, the economy has done badly. People are really suffering. Nobody is likely to listen to him and he is going to have a bad time trying to sell BBI," said Prof Gitile Naituli, a leadership and management lecturer at the Multi-Media University in Nairobi.

"This is the same problem that sunk Uhuru's presidential bid in 2002, but I suspect Kenyans would have given a better hearing to Kibaki had he come out to support a preferred successor in 2012 because of the legacy of his economy," he said.

Another political commentator, James Mithika, said it was ironical that Mudavadi was dismissing reports of an endorsement when the deputy president was dying for it.

"This is baffling. The true position is that every presidential candidate in Kenya today is angling for an endorsement from Uhuru, whether overt or covert," said Mithika.

But Moi-era minister and former University of Dodoma's Political Science lecturer Amukowa Anangwe said Mudavadi's reaction was understandable.

"Kenyans have a distaste for political projects during succession. They prefer to choose a person who is not a surrogate of the outgoing regime, especially when accepting such endorsement is being enjoined in the failures of the outgoing rule," said Anangwe.

It appears Mudavadi is well aware of those sensitivities and yesterday he told Mt Kenya listeners that he supported Uhuru's remarks at his mother's burial that other Kenyan communities, other than Kikuyu and Kalenjin, should be given an opportunity to produce the president.

Musalia Mudavadi President Uhuru Kenyatta ANC
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