According to the Standard Online story below, presidential hopefuls are in a dilemma over associating with MPs who face credible opposition from popular aspirants, which could doom their prospects for election.
The paper notes that a recent poll suggests 63% of Kenyans would not re-elect their current MPs, which the paper notes is adding to the pressure for these presidential candidates to shun the unpopular MPs.
Although there is truth in this analysis, it is more so true for PNU or whatever it morphs into in 2012 than ODM, which continues to enjoy nationwide support despite its earlier problems wrought by Ruto’s departure.
Led by Raila’s strategic moves to re-popularize the party and specifically his successfully fending off Ruto’s onslaughts, all that is left is for the party to maintain its dominance in Kenyan politics is to hold open and transparent elections of its top officials and ditto for nomination of its contenders for the various elective offices and the train to victory shall be difficult, if not impossible to stop.
PNU, G7, G47 or whatever tribal outfit emerges to challenge ODM will likely see dust simply because none of these entities or more specifically none their leaders can make any compelling case beyond tribalism why they are or can be a better team than ODM, and more so for the high office.
That’s not to say many within their ranks cannot be elected to the various elective offices in their own right, which they shall, but any objective analyst must conclude not at the presidential level where none matches Raila in terms of leadership qualities and broad appeal across the nation.
In other words, the only reason Raila gets defeated, is if tribalism prevails.
His opponents hope so, the rest of us hope not.
Peace, Unity and Truth
And now the story…
Presidential hopefuls are in a dilemma over association with MPs who face credible opposition from popular aspirants, which could unsettle their campaigns for high office.
The frontrunners to succeed President Kibaki have the tricky task to embrace allies in Parliament without being seen as an endorsement by their rivals who also back their presidential candidatures. A recent opinion poll suggesting 63 per cent of Kenyans would not re-elect their current MPs piles up pressure on presidential aspirants to shun unpopular leaders, hanging onto their coattails to shore up their support.
The conflict involving sitting MPs, former legislators and new political players will escalate in the forthcoming General Election since many more posts are up for grabs, including governor, Senator, MP, representatives to county assemblies.
|Presidential hopefuls have tricky task ahead [Graphic/Standard]
Feuds between sitting MPs and aspirants have dire political consequences like in 2007 when Narc-Kenya imploded, leading to the late cobbling of PNU as President Kibaki’s re-election vehicle.
Eventually the parties fielded competing parliamentary candidates that resulted in PNU having fewer MPs than ODM, which was among the grounds to dispute President Kibaki’s victory.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Internal Security Minister George Saitoti, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, Planning Assistant Minister Peter Kenneth, Gichugu MP Martha Karua are competing to become the country’s fourth president.
Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale cautions presidential aspirants to accord equal treatment to MPs and their opponents because favouring incumbents is politically suicidal.
“Presidential aspirants should know they are operating in an environment where over 70 per cent of MPs lose their seats. Pegging their hopes on such unpopular MPs is dangerous. They should treat MPs and aspirants equally,” Khalwale told The Standard On Sunday.
Gwassi MP John Mbadi says presidential aspirants will not be in a dilemma if they embrace internal party democracy.
“Let them and their parties conduct credible party nominations rather than attempting to impose unpopular candidates on voters. We should not hang onto coattails of presidential aspirants or seek out favours for nomination,” Mbadi added.
Political foes are keen to exploit their proximity to presidential contenders to curry favour with their supporters and influence party nominations for mileage at the polls.
Such intrigues played out last year at a public rally in Nyeri following Uhuru’s return from an appearance at the International Criminal Court. The rally at Ruring’u Stadium turned into a showdown between local MPs and aspirants, including former Mathira MP Nderitu Gachagua and former Cabinet minister Mutahi Kagwe, who protested at attempts to sideline them.
Area MPs who rarely pull together attended the meeting, which highlighted the scramble for the Gatundu South MP, whose popularity has soared. Uhuru avoided appearing to endorse either sitting MPs or their rivals, instead assuring that the PNU Alliance would hold fair nominations.
Juja MP William Kabogo of Kiambu County had been picked as the master of ceremonies for the event, apparently to diffuse tension among Nyeri County leaders.
Kabogo would later pick a quarrel with Maragwa MP Elias Mbau, which would escalate to a physical scuffle around Parliament Buildings, days later.
The tiff was linked to the supremacy battle between Uhuru and Kenneth in Murang’a County. Kenneth, who wants to run for president on a Kenya National Congress ticket, has had meetings with MPs and new political players eyeing gubernatorial posts.
Ruto has dozens of MPs tagging along to his new United Republican Party of Kenya. They have to elbow for space with former MPs and newcomers who also hope to ride on Ruto’s back to unseat them.
Both groups believe their election will be assured if Ruto sanctions their nomination or at least endorses their candidacy.
For instance in Trans Nzoia County, Joshua Kuttuny, Ruto’s ally, has to contend with former Kenya Seed Company managing director Nathaniel Tum, who is eyeing the seat.
Ruto’s allies are facing off like in Bomet County where Chepalungu MP Isaac Rutto and his Konoin counterpart Julius Kones are battling for the governor’s seat.
Before abandoning UDM, Ruto had been forced to intervene in feuds by rival factions in Ainamoi and Belgut represented by his allies Benjamin Langat and Charles Keter.
It’s no different in ODM where party leader Raila has had to steer clear of party leadership feud in Nairobi between City Mayor George Aladwa and Starehe, MP Margaret Wanjiru.
The recent ODM grassroots elections saw new comers lock veterans out of the party leadership at constituencies, with Cabinet minister Fred Gumo (MP, Westlands) losing to city councillor Elias Okumu.
In Western Province Shinyalu MP Justus Kizito was swept away. The same fate befell his Bomachoge counterpart Simon Ogari, who lost to city lawyer Joash Maangi.
Kalonzo has said nominations for his Wiper Democratic Party will be free and fair and that he will not interfere with the process.
In Ukambani MPs and aspirants are banking either on Kalonzo or Water Minister Charity Ngilu.
As a pointer to the shifting loyalties, Kitui West MP Charles Nyamai, who was elected on Ngilu’s Narc ticket in 2007, when ODM-Kenya wave swept the region, has since decamped to the VP’s camp.
Nyamai is facing off with former Environment minister Francis Nyenze, who he dislodged in 2007 after Ngilu handed Nyamai the ticket. Nyenze has since warmed up to Ngilu and is serving in one of the water boards, as is former Machakos Town MP Daudi Mwanzia.
In Murang’a County, Kenneth is seen to enjoy close ties with MPs Elias Mbau (Maragua), Kiharu’s Muturi Mwangi, Maina Kamau (Kandara) and Clement Wambugu (Mathioya).
Environment minister John Michuki (Kangema) and Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau are in Uhuru’s camp. During last year’s civic polls Kenneth’s group upset the Uhuru camp in the region. Mercy Kimwe was elected Murang’a’s first woman mayor. She ousted Joseph Njoroge, who’s allied to Uhuru and Michuki.
In neighbouring Maragua, Cyrus Ruru ousted Charles Thuo, who is allied to Uhuru.
Ongoing party polls have been tricky for party chiefs given the inevitable clash between MPs and aspirants.