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Jitters over Uhuru 2022 succession : The Standard



President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto during the launch of their Manifesto at Kasarani Stadium on June 26, 2017. Ruto allies have hit out at Murathe over remarks on succession politics and insist 10-10 Jubilee deal is intact. [File, Standard]

Statements from President Uhuru Kenyatta and individuals believed to have his ear have once again left the 2022 succession race wide open, further fueling speculation on the fate of the deal between him and Deputy President William Ruto.

During the televised interview on Friday, the President for the umpteenth time, distanced himself from succession politics and instead vouched for the handshake deal between himself and NASA leader Raila Odinga.
Coming in quick succession with the statements of his long-time ally and Jubilee Party Vice Chair David Murathe, the Head of State remained guarded on the fate of his deputy, whose allies insist on a 10-10 year reign between them.
“Those speaking about succession are on their own. We have our own party and our plans ahead, just like the others, but we must prepare the country in the manner in which we have started with Mheshimiwa Raila….,” Kenyatta said.

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“Wale mnataka kwenda kukimbiza uchaguzi, mkwende mimi siko na nyinyi (Those who want to preoccupy themselves with 2022 election can go ahead but I am not with them),” he said even when the interlocutor asked about a political pact with Ruto.
The President’s narrative of “handshake first and election last” has been amplified by Raila and leaders supportive of the deal including Baringo Senator and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka.
Ruto’s allies have however been skeptical on the handshake describing it as a smokescreen to dishonor the 10-10 power deal. Yesterday, the Baringo Senator reiterated President Kenyatta’s statement against preoccupation with 2022 politics.
“I wish them the best of luck. We will see where they are going to run to when the real dance begins,” he said while vouching for nurturing of the handshake first.

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The writing has been on the wall for Ruto for much too long, though. From the day Kenyatta and Raila surprised the DP with their handshake on the steps of Harambee House on March 9, his allies say they raised their antennae.
From that day, the 10-10 deal, a popular catchphrase in political rallies preceding the 2013 and 2017 elections dissipated in the thin air. It was no longer a foregone conclusion.
“The handshake seems to have consigned him to a place where he was left lamenting and opposing changes to the Constitution to give room to more executive positions,” says Nakuru town West MP Samuel Arama.
His pact with the President to succeed him was further in doubt when he (Kenyatta) visited Nyeri in October and told local leaders that when the time is right he would show them his choice of successor.
And then came this week’s Mr Murathe shocker that Central was not obligated to return Ruto’s favor since they had shared the two governments (2013-2017 and 2017 to 2022) equally.

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“He was passing the message on behalf of many people from Kikuyu land who fear the Ruto presidency. They fear he would not take care of their interests,” says Ajwang Agina, a political commentator for Deutche Welle, a German public broadcaster and Radio France International.
Ruto’s allies led by the Leader of Majority in National Assembly Aden Duale dismiss the assertion the deputy president is on downward spiral following the relentless pounding he is receiving from all sides including Jubilee where he is the deputy leader.
“The DP is our deputy party leader and the only Jubilee candidate for 2022 so far. Those dismissing him are doing so at their own peril,” Mr Duale told the Sunday Standard.
Kipkelion West MP Hillary Koskei and Belgut Member of Parliament, Nelson Koech have accused Murathe of attempting to wreck the party from within. They have even demanded an explanation from the President.
“It has reached a time that we are now forced to ask the President to tell us why Murathe is still in Jubilee. Why is he still being allowed to go around trying to wreck the party by making irresponsible utterances?” said Koskei.

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But the President appears too busy with his legacy projects to take on his bosom friend Murathe who has continued to reiterate his statements much to their chagrin.
South Imenti MP Kathuri Murungi says that the Jubilee vice chairman is contradicting the president’s directive not to engage in succession politics. His Mathira counterpart Rigathi Gachagua also defended Ruto’s presidential bid.
“The president dismissed Murathe and said the party had its own plan. He is on record saying that he will do 10 years and Ruto 10 years. He has never said anything to the contrary, so why do people want to put words in his own mouth?” Rigathi says.
However, the DP’s critics say he has been uncomfortable since the handshake, adding that his plans to ascend to the biggest office in Kenya will be further disrupted if those who want to change the Constitution succeed.
“Ruto is an extra-ordinary politician but he thinks he can make himself president. Rather than build a team at national level he is doing ‘retail’ politics; using financially malleable leaders in each community to go directly to voters in those communities and hope he can directly convince them to support him in 2022,” Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu says.
He says that in a democracy candidates are made president by others, out of choice, not blackmail or threats.
“This is the same thing people like Murathe, Kabando, Atwoli, Kabogo and Kamanda are saying to Ruto.” 
Since independence, out of ten vice presidents, only Daniel Arap Moi and Kibaki ascended to the presidency. While Moi humbled his way to the top, Kibaki was elected through a broad alliance that rallied around him to hound out KANU from power.
Since the handshake, some heads of parastatals associated with the DP have kicked out of office and charged with graft.
“When you want to tame a tree that is growing rapidly, you start by pruning its branches to the top first. That is happening to the DP,” says an MP from North Rift who has been a thorn in DP’s flesh but who declined to be named.
An Infotrack poll earlier in the year ranked Ruto as the politician most perceived to be corrupt in the country. His allies dismissed it as a wider scheme to lock him out of State House.
“He took office but didn’t learn from what befell the past holders of the office he’s holding,” says Johanna Ngeno, the Emurwa Dikir MP.
He says some problems the DP is facing are of his own making, claiming that he used his position, money and time to antagonize other leaders.
“His failure to respect other leaders has aided his isolation. If he had respect for others, many would have sympathized with him,” he says.
The scandal at NCPB in which genuine farmers were left out of last year’s maize deliveries at the expense of traders has left a big constituency of his supporters blaming him.
“His people imported maize and sold to the board. He is responsible for all the woes farmers are undergoing,” says Joshua Kutuny, the Cherangany MP.
He says Ruto has spent much of his time frustrating independent minded leaders and personalities, adding that most Kalenjins will support the change of Constitution even if it is calculated to deny him the presidency.
“His boss no longer talks about his deputy succeeding him. The silence is disturbing the DP who assumed he will automatically become the next president,” says Ngeno.
“It was a horrible year he would like to forget quickly. Forces against him ganged up to tame him and perhaps ruin his burning political ambition,” says Professor Herman Manyora, a University of Nairobi don and a political commentator.
Additional Reporting by Nikko Tanui, Bernard Sanga, Allan Mungai and Eric Wainaina

Elections 2022Succession PoliticsWilliam RutoUhuru KenyattaHandshake

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