Hidden scenarios: Options for Uhuru and Raila
By Biketi Kikechi
| September 26th 2021
Is there a possibility that Kenyans could one morning wake up and find that some sworn political rivals have decided to work together?
Can President Uhuru Kenyatta abandon his handshake partner former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and openly declare support for another candidate?
Some analysts believe the president could be working behind-the-scenes on ‘Option B’ should his main plot.
They say chances of Raila working with ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi should not be ruled out because anything is possible in Kenyan politics.
And what if all outsiders like The Kenya National Alliance for Change that brought together Justin Muturi, Martha Karua, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi and Governor Kivutha Kibwana intensify their campaigns.
Can they join forces with others to create a third force and mount a big challenge for Raila, Deputy President William Ruto, Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka and Gideon Moi, the so-called big five?
And there are those who argue it is not unthinkable for Raila and Ruto to be in one camp because drastic developments can emerge to create such a scenario.
Professor of Leadership and Management Joseph Naituli of Multimedia University argues that nothing is impossible because politicians only believe in opportunities and interests.
He says although it appears that things may not change much there is also a possibility of Uhuru upsetting the apple cart by either covertly supporting another candidate as he buys time.
“Today, the spectacular collapse of the Jubilee Party is being blamed on Raila instead of either Uhuru or Ruto, with a narrative that he created confusion through the handshake but that could also be a card the President was cleverly using,” says Naituli.
He rates Ruto and Raila as front runners in the presidential race at the moment but again foresees a situation where the former will be a clear victor should the latter not put together a big formidable team.
He adds the scenario will be completely different should the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) either field a candidate or even decide not to run if they get pushed to support one of the candidates.
“That again will favour Ruto, unless Raila gets a strong running mate from the Mt Kenya region like Justin Muturi or Martha Karua but there are chances there will be a run off if the OKA team will be in the race,” says Naituli.
But Prof Amukoa Anangwe does not see the next president emerging from outside the big five, but he still sees the president playing a big role through his office and the so-called Deep State.
“It is too late to have them come in and create a big impact. The only chance they may have is to emerge as strong running mates because that is an area that the aspirants are still working on,” says Anangwe.
What about a scenario of Uhuru throwing in a wild card because of the risk of having all his eggs in one basket? Anangwe says it is possible because he also does not see the efforts of reconciling him with Ruto bearing fruit.
But he also thinks the president will be largely passive although some forces in the Mt Kenya region will be pushing towards certain preferences and that is why the Mt Kenya Unity Forum should not be taken for granted.
Prof Naituli thinks the team led by Muturi will have some sway next but Anangwe sees the Karua-led group carrying more weight.
Former National Assembly Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim also sees the president having several options that are available to him.
“In my opinion, he is torn between supporting Raila with the objective of giving him a strong running mate from the Mt Kenya region,” says the seasoned lawyer.
The argument is premised on the assumption that at his age, the maximum Raila can be in office is only one term, so that he either passes the button back to the Mt Kenya region or to Gideon.
He, however, also sees Uhuru having a hidden card in case Raila becomes a hard sale because of the historical challenges the Odinga ticket has faced in the Mt Kenya region.
“The downside for Uhuru is if he is unable to sell Raila because of the damnations and vilification against him and the Luo as a nation in that region,” says Farah.
One scenario that he does not foresee is the Raila and Ruto ticket because; the non-negotiable fact is that the president and those around him are agreed that Ruto should not ascend to power. And so, what will happen in case Uhuru is unable to sell Raila in the Mt Kenya region and the ODM leader also fails to marshal the support he had before in other parts of the country?
“His options are really limited and it is Ruto who has an advantage in many of those scenarios unless they make it easier by both backing another candidate,” says Farah.
In the absence of the positions that were contained in the BBI Bill, Farah sees the possibility of Raila still getting a big position in whatever government that will formed if Ruto loses in 2022.
He says because of certain realities Raila may get convinced that he cannot make it against Ruto but under some kind of arrangement play a key role in the government.
He regrets that the country is so polarised along tribal lines, thus limiting Raila’s chances because all along from when his father was in politics, their candidature was predicated upon Kenyans’ distrust for Kikuyu leadership.
And in the event that there is a serious option who is not a Kikuyu as it is the case now, then his candidature becomes more complicated.
He argues that a contest between Ruto and Raila will see a large chunk of neutral voters mainly who could have supported the OKA candidate leaning towards the Ruto side.
As for Raila and Mudavadi running on one ticket with Kalonzo also on the ballot, he says it is unlikely because they are both from same side of western Kenya.
“Raila and Mudavadi will happen if Uhuru becomes hard-headed but the result is that they will not make it and that is why the president has difficult choices and if he is not careful this is going to be the end of his relevance in Kenya’s politics,” warned Farah.
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