Imagine Raila not running in 2012 and a victorious general in the race

Wednesday November 09 2011

So we have seen the opinion polls about how the Kenya 2012 election might turn out.

As far as we know, Prime Minister and ODM leader Raila Odinga; Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka; Deputy PM and minister of Finance Uhuru Kenyatta; Internal Security minister George Saitoti; MP Martha Karua; MP William Ruto; MP Peter Kenneth, Ralph Tuju are all likely to be in the race.

However, December 2012 is still far away. Is it possible that there are people who might be candidates, and possibly even win who are not on this list?

Is it certain that PM Raila, the man whom all opinion polls put in the lead with varying margins, might not be a candidate?

What, apart from the speculation that the outcome of the International Criminal Court trials of the Ocampo Six at The Hague could derail Ruto’s and Uhuru’s ambitions, are the likely surprises?

To begin with, I think it is not given that Raila will be on the ticket next year.


This is because there are still some things we don’t know about the deal that ended the post-election violence in 2008, and led to the formation of the Grand Coalition government with Mwai Kibaki as president and Raila as PM.

So far, Kibaki and Raila have been extremely lucky. Their lieutenants ended up at The Hague being tried for crimes against humanity in respect of their alleged role in the PEV, while Kibaki and Raila have been rewarded with the spoils and frills of the highest offices in the land.

There is a view among some observers that the understanding between the two principals and the international forces behind the peace deal is that Kibaki would push for a new Constitution and not seek to impose a successor; and that Raila would not stand in 2012.

So far, there is nothing in Raila’s actions to suggest that there is any truth to this, but the impossible might yet happen.

But it is not Raila’s absence from the ticket that would be the mega-surprise of 2012. I think it is how Kenya’s current military campaign might affect 2012.

First, the Somalia war produce a war hero who wins a dramatic victory against Al-Shabaab militants in southern Sudan, and retires from the army in mid-2012 and offers himself for election.

The military is largely untainted by the murky past of Kenya’s politics, and a decorated victorious general could be an interesting political prospect.

The other thing that I know for sure is that the foreign policy and military hawks in eastern Africa, especially in Ethiopia and Uganda, were sad to see Mr Moses Wetang’ula stand aside when he was hit by the Tokyo embassy land sale scandal.

They liked what they saw as Wetang’ula’s “geopolitical clarity” and his firm tone on Somalia.

Now he is back, and he has picked up from where he left. His performance, and that of Defence minister Mohamed Yusuf Haji in the first days of the attack when they visited Mogadishu, impressed quite a few diplomats who watched them.

So, if national security becomes a big issue in Kenya in future, we may see a new cast of politicians vying for the presidency, and gaining from the support of the big players in Kenya’s Somalia campaign like France and the US.

If this scenario plays out, then it is not impossible that Mr Wetang’ula and Mr Haji could emerge as a joint ticket.

The advantage with that, is that Mr Haji could bring with him the Somali voting bloc, which could well be the largest depending on the actual number of the Kenya-Somali population.

Secondly, a Somali voting bloc will bring a more clout than the Rift Valley and Central Kenya election machines ever had.

Indeed, Somali money could well be bigger than that of the other voting blocs combined.

It is interesting that a few months ago, that contentious publication, The Indian Ocean Newsletter, had a story saying the “American candidate” in 2012 is, wait for it, Internal Security minister Saitoti. And they liked him because he had strong security credentials.

Apart from not being sure who will be in the 2012 race, this makes it very difficult for anyone to be sure whether the present political alliances will actually hold and put forward candidates next year. \
I am booking my ringside seat early.

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