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Uhuru throws 2022 succession race open

Saturday November 10 2018

Uhuru Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses mourners during the burial of Kalonzo Musyoka's father at Tseikuru, Kitui County, on November 9, 2018. PHOTO | PSCU 

DAVID MWERE
By DAVID MWERE
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KITAVI MUTUA
By KITAVI MUTUA
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President Uhuru Kenyatta appeared to throw his succession race wide open when he said those seeking to succeed him in 2022 were free to campaign in every part of the country.

He also signalled to the public to judge the prospective candidates on the basis of their policies and not where they come from and what party they represent.

His views may disappoint supporters of Deputy President William Ruto who expects a direct endorsement and who has been priming himself to take the baton from him.

The President’s comments also appear to contradict his earlier position that his choice of successor would shock many and that he was keen to have a hand in picking who will succeed him.

And although he suggested that hopefuls were free to seek support, this also appeared to go against his earlier admonition that leaders should stop early campaigns and focus on development.

CAMPAIGNS

In his numerous public engagements, the President has been clear that politics ended with the 2017 presidential elections.

However, speaking during the burial of former vice president Kalonzo Musyoka’s father, Peter Mairu, in Tseikuru, Kitui County, on Friday, Mr Kenyatta appeared to beat a retreat on his opposition to early campaigns and who is likely to succeed him.

“Let the people who want to leadership to reach every part of this country. It is time we end tribal politics and embrace good policies that will help the people,” he told the mourners.

He said that politicians may not be agreeing on issues, which is normal in a democracy, but that should not make people fight.

He also signalled that he was more interested in peaceful campaigns that would not divide the country or adversely affect the economy.

“Kila mtu ambaye ako na haja na hiyo kura aitafute kwa njia ya amani kwa sababu ni sera zake ndo sitamuuza. Na hiyo ndio siasa sisi tunataka (all those who are interested in the seat should campaign for it in peace because policies should determine who wins. And that is the kind of politics we all want)," he said.

“We know that when leaders fight, it is the people who suffer. We should not allow this”.

HOPEFULS

Deputy President William Ruto, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, Mr Musyoka, Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and Mr Peter Kenneth, who contested the 2017 presidential election have expressed interest to succeed the President when he completes his second and final term in office.

The others are Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and his Kakamega colleague Wycliffe Oparanya.

Mr Odinga, who attended the burial, has previously stated that he will not be in the race but many believe he will most certainly change his mind despite being appointed by the African Union as its High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa.

On Thursday, Mr Odinga said that his March truce with President Kenyatta had borne fruits and was meant to energise the war against corruption, ethnicity and insecurity.

He said Kitui was an opposition zone and led the mourners in chanting the Nasa slogan.

VOTERS

Earlier, Senator Moi had asked the people of Ukambani to give their leaders permission to work with him.

The region supported his father, President Daniel arap Moi, during his 24 years in power. It was significant that Mr Gideon Moi also read the retired President's condolence message.

Mr Odinga read the message from retired President Mwai Kibaki.

Mr Odinga has been active in pushing for constitutional change through the building bridges initiative, which he and President Kenyatta established after the March "handshake".

Mr Odinga has been seeking to change the system of government by introducing a third tier.

He hit out at county leaders, accusing them of giving devolution a bad name by organising trips abroad when they should be working for the citizenry.

DEVELOPMENT

Mr Ruto, who spoke after Mr Odinga, enumerated the many infrastructure projects that Jubilee had initiated in the area and promised more, saying that he and the President would be back to commission more roads, water and electricity projects.

Mr Ruto has been undertaking a series of countrywide tours, fundraising and commissioning development projects, moves that have infuriated his rivals.

In what was a jibe at the Deputy President, Mr Musalia Mudavadi, the ANC leader, said leaders should not get credit for donating ill-gotten money during fundraisers. Mr Mudavadi is himself a possible contender for the presidency in 2022.

Mr Ruto did not respond to the jibe. However, he took a swipe at Mr Odinga, saying that the Bible would be translated into vernacular to end confusion among Kenyans.

UNITY

He was responding Mr Odinga's comment that when he was leading Kenyans who supported him last year to the promised land, they encountered crocodiles at River Jordan. It was therefore necessary for him to build bridges with President Kenyatta.

Mr Ruto said translating the Bible would clear the air on whether there were crocodiles on River Jordan. He however, did speak about unity.

“The government is committed to making the lives of Kenyans better. We want to ensure a united country,” he said.

Today, Mr Ruto returns to Migori County, just a week after touring the area to launch “development projects” while Mr Peter Kenneth will be hosted by Saboti MP Caleb Amisi for a fundraiser.

While giving the vote of thanks, Mr Musyoka affirmed his commitment to work closely with the President even as he accused a senior Jubilee politician of doing a shoddy job in the construction of roads in Ukambani.

POLITICS

Earlier, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale had hit out at Mr Odinga’s now famous metaphorical narrative of "crocodiles" in River Jordan in relation to Nasa’s failure to win the presidency.

"Our brothers from the other side let us stand together. Don't take us back with these crocodile stories. This crocodile that you remind us of every day must stop. There are no crocodiles within Kenyans,” Mr Duale said.

However, Siaya Senator James Orengo accused Mr Duale of underestimating the need to unite Kenyans.

"When we come together as a nation, if you don't tell the truth as it is, you are going nowhere. If you are telling the truth you are on the pathway to salvation," he said.

Mr Orengo further told Mr Duale to avoid being oversensitive in his politics but try to take things lightly.

"Even Mzee Kenyatta said we will forgive but never forget. We all have our own story, if you don't have a story just keep quiet," he said.