In Summary
  • Some, like former Cabinet minister Martha Karua, have even gone to the extent of publicly dissuading Mr Kenyatta from assuming the position of PM.
  • Kenyatta and Odinga have maintained their move to spearhead a national healing process was motivated more by national than personal interest.

Try as they have, to reassure Kenyans that their gesture to close ranks is for the public good, political competitors and sceptics insist President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga have something up their sleeves.

And the situation has not been helped by the greatly enhanced camaraderie between the two hitherto sworn political enemies.

Since reaching out to one another on March 9, 2018 in the now famed Handshake gesture, the Opposition chief has enjoyed substantial influence and trappings of power in the Jubilee administration.

Little wonder that many, including allies of Deputy President William Ruto and members of the civil society, had, before the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Report on Wednesday, dismissed the product as a political deal between the two leaders.

To the Jubilee Party politicians allied to the DP, BBI is a document aimed at aiding Mr Kenyatta and, particularly Mr Odinga, to stay in power after 2022.

GROOM SUCCESSOR

For long, the word on the ground, as confirmed by Majority Chief Whip Ben Washiali, has been that the two leaders are in a power-sharing pact, with Mr Kenyatta settling for prime minister’s slot and Mr Odinga going for the presidency.

While Odinga’s backers have not hidden the fact that the former PM may be eyeing the presidency in 2022, the President’s men have been cagey, but at least not Simon Mbugua, an MP of the East Africa Legislative Assembly (Eala).

The legislator maintains President Kenyatta is the “indisputable candidate” for slot of Prime Minister.

The MP, who early this year kicked off the lobby for Kenyatta’s assumption of office of PM in the next government, dubbed “akaputin” — in reference to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who has held the positions of President and Prime Minister interchangeably, claims “the deal is as good as sealed”.

“We, members of the Kikuyu community, have no clear political successor at the moment. And this is either by design or error, meaning we can only have the President exit from the political scene after grooming a successor, and he has five years to do so in the next government,” explained Mr Mbugua.

RUTO UNDER ATTACK

Reached for comment, confidants of the two leaders were, however, categorical the President and former Prime Minister had no known 2022 power-sharing deal.

Former vice-chairman of the President’s party, David Murathe, wondered why a section of Jubilee politicians were fixated with Mr Kenyatta’s post 2022 political life, “when he has repeatedly said he will not hang onto power contrary to the constitutional dictates”.

The ODM chairman, John Mbadi, was similarly miffed: “The two have stressed repeatedly that theirs is an act out of national and not personal interest. Just how far can we push this skewed notion that these two have a selfish interest to grab power?”

Nonetheless, the President and former premier have continued to give mixed signals — partly playing hardball on DP Ruto, with Mr Odinga particularly campaigning spiritedly against the country’s second in command.

And last month, the President also further confused his supporters by suggesting, rather casually, that he did not mind occupying the office of premier.

He was speaking last month during a meeting with political leaders from Mt Kenya region at Sagana Lodge, Nyeri County.

Talk of the premier’s slot for Mr Kenyatta has ideally unsettled some within Jubilee.

TERM LIMIT

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