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Key players to watch in Uhuru succession race

By Moses Nyamori | Jan 1st 2022 | 4 min read

President Uhuru Kenyatta. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

After months of posturing and sloganeering, Kenyans are finally walking into 2022, with great expectations that they will now get an opportunity to kick out undeserving elected leaders and retain those who have served them well.

Focus now shifts to key players and institutions who will shape and determine President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession contest now seven months away. Some institutions will shatter or hoist political dreams in the coming General Election as they will clear or deny aspirants opportunity to run for various seats or even nullify wins.

At the centre of much-hyped duel will be on Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga as they gear for an epic race in the ultimate quest for power.

Although there are other aspirants seeking to succeed Uhuru, the race is already turning into a two horse-race between Ruto and Raila.

Of interest also in the race is Uhuru, who has indicated that he will not sit back but has so far been proactive in influencing his succession race. Uhuru fell out with his deputy Ruto and is largely perceived to be backing Raila.

Uhuru has deconstructed the narrative that gained currency in 2019 that he was a lame-duck president. He so far electrified the political landscape by rearranging the various particles in his administration.

“I intend to ensure those who will take over power will not exploit and steal from Kenyans. I want the next government to foster unity among our people not divide them,” Uhuru said in February.

Ruto and Raila have already started sizing up each other with Ruto – who will be giving the seat first stab – daring Raila, his senior, to “bring it on”, describing the handshake as a power grab scheme hatched to tilt the presidential contest in the latter’s favour.

On Thursday, Ruto claimed the former premier was desperate for Uhuru’s endorsement.

“Those competing with me have gone to hide behind the president because they don’t want to face me,” said Ruto.

Others in the race are One Kenya Alliance (OKA) principals Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Kanu chairman Gideon Moi and Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula, Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria of Usawa Kwa Wote party and National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi with Democratic Party of Kenya.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) under chairmanship of Wafula Chebukati will midwife the election. The electoral body will a play key role in clearing candidates for various elective seats.

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

At the stroke of a pen, IEBC can scuttle political dreams. The agency will scrutinise documents for aspirants to determine if they are qualified to run for Member of County Assembly, constituency MP, Senator, County Woman Rep, Governor and President.

The agency is also set to conduct final mass voter registration this month. The eligible voters targeted for enlisting will have a bearing on the outcome of the polls.

Another critical institution in the race is the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties under Anne Nderitu. ORPP will approve or reject the registration of new political parties. The office will also handle party disputes.

Uhuru and Raila have reserved Azimio La Umoja Movement and are in the process of transforming it into a coalition party.

The handshake partners are currently pushing for passage of the Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, 2021 as they seek to create a monolithic Narc-like party.

The grand plan is to have provisions that will allow political parties field candidates jointly across the country under the newly unveiled movement.

Registrar of Political Parties, Ann Nderitu. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Similarly, the Judiciary will be at the centre of the polls in handling election petitions and disputes. The Supreme Court is set to determine whether the scuttling of Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) which had sought to amend the Constitution and alter the architecture of government, was constitutional.

Chief Justice Martha Koome was recently picked to chair a multi-agency forum that will guide electoral stakeholders on the road map to the polls.

The Supreme Court, where the President of the Judiciary sits alongside six other judges, will also handle presidential petition in the event the outcome is disputed.

The immediate former Chief Justice David Maraga in 2017 led the Supreme Court in annulling President Uhuru’s re-election.

The Judiciary is expected to arbitrate the disputes and election petitions which will arise from the nomination and the voting.

Security agents under Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai have their job cut out for them for they will be expected to ensure the electioneering process is conducted in an environment devoid of fear.

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