In Summary
  • Mr Odinga acknowledged that the peace pact with the President on March 9 last year had redrawn the country’s political script.
  • Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya says that while the handshake has pacified the country, there are many unintended effects as well.

Two years after a general election that saw the presidential vote annulled by the courts, there has been no respite in local politics, with friends turning into foes and foes into allies.

Nobody would have thought that today, a person no less than Deputy President William Ruto would be complaining about ‘excesses of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations’ yet just the other day their admirers christened his close working relationship with his boss Uhuru Kenyatta as that of ‘dynamic duo’.

The two not long ago displayed their unity, even adorning marching shirts. “We will resist and reject any attempts to weave political narratives and propaganda into the projects in the name of fighting graft.

"Our opponents are using backdoor tactics to undermine government projects, especially the Big Four Agenda. I wish to remind them that we will forge ahead with our development agenda, which will be used by voters as a scorecard in the next general election,” DP Ruto recently lamented.

For a while, he pretended that all was well. But lately, however, he has been talking openly about his frustrations in government amid strong concerns from his lieutenants that Central Kenya, Mr Kenyatta’s backyard, is slowly but steadily turning its back on him despite giving an undertaking to back him for the country’s top job in the next polls.

The DP is not leaving anything to chance, he is busy criss-crossing the country to bolster his State House bid in 2022.

PEACE PACT

But as former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson once observed that a week is a long time in politics, two years must then constitute a decade or perhaps more.

Tables have turned with most of those who made a career out of attacking Opposition chief Raila Odinga forced into submission.

Others have stuck with the DP while another group remains caught up between the two centres of power.

On Saturday, Mr Odinga acknowledged that the peace pact with the President on March 9 last year had redrawn the country’s political script but was quick to point out that it was all for the better.

“Generally, we are where few expected us to be. The general expectation was that it would be chaos, standoff and rage all the way to 2022; and that was going to give way to a divisive and possibly chaotic elections.

"There are even those who believe that if I had dug in, Uhuru’s government would have collapsed,” Mr Odinga told the Sunday Nation.

He said that digging in would have driven the country further to the precipice and caused more suffering to everyone and possibly even a claw back of some of the progress the country had made.

BALANCING ACT

Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju was on TV last week defending Mr Odinga against accusations that he was out to break up Jubilee. This is something he would not have dared to do two years ago.

In a rare moment of honesty from a politician that also captures the fact that for politicians it is never about the interest of the voter, Mr Tuju, in reference to the changes in the political architecture, said: “I hope no single Kenyan should risk his or her life for a politician.”

He defended his new dalliance with the opposition leader. “He is an interlocutor with the President, so I will engage with him. I have no reasons to criticise him now; he is working with the President. We are reading from the same hymn book,” he said.

The Kenyatta-Odinga rapprochement also triggered realignments in the major parties with ODM MPs becoming perhaps more pro-government than some of their Jubilee counterpart.

Vocal supporters of Mr Kenyatta in his first term like Deputy Senate Speaker Kithure Kindiki have had to assume a low profile, carefully studying the new order and being careful not to antagonise both the Head of State and his deputy.

He, like many MPs from Mount Kenya region, are also keen not to offend Mr Odinga, a tricky balancing act that may not be sustainable in the long run.

In politics, one must take a stand. There is no room for fence-sitters.

FACTIONS

And amid muted debate of possible censure motion against Mr Kenyatta as some JP members demanded a Parliamentary Group meeting two months ago, Minority Leader John Mbadi dared them to try it.

He said the party was under firm instructions from Mr Odinga to support the President in the House.

Such cooperation has triggered an implosion in the ruling party with three factions emerging.

There is Tanga Tanga, comprising politicians loyal to Mr Ruto, Kieleweke - which supports the President - and Team Wanjiku, led by Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, who do not want to associate with the first two groupings.

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