If opinion poll predictions are to be believed then it appears Kenya is likely to see a run off between the sons of Kenya’s first president and his deputy. The trend appears to show that while the son of Jomo, Uhuru, is gaining popularity, the son of Jaramogi, Raila, who still leads the pack, appears to be losing ground though another poll had previously shown that the latter would beat his opponent at a run off.
One may argue that this is a new Kenya and the likes of Kiyiapi and Mutava may change the political maths but this is very unlikely given the history of political contests in the country. With the assumption that all is likely to stay constant, two men – Uhuru and Raila – will probably be the key candidates in 2012.
Opinion polls aside, just like many Kenyans, I have been wondering – silently and aloud – who of the two would emerge tops and lead the country for the next five years after 2012. I am no prophet or political scientist and neither am I psychic and so I will not try and predict who will be president in 2012.
This reminds me that my interview to join the Daily Nation newsroom involved writing an analytical piece on who will occupy State House in 2008.
In 2002, Raila jeopardized Uhuru’s State House bid when he led a dramatic walkout from Kanu and endorsed Kibaki, the then National Alliance of Kenya leader, who went ahead to defeat Uhuru in the presidential election.
Now the younger Kenyatta is determined to block Jaramogi’s son from winning power. In political rallies, Mr Kenyatta has accused Mr Odinga of using the ICC to eliminate him from the next presidential election.
But both men face one of the toughest tests in the election that must give Kenya a new president. They are both troubled politically and a runoff between them could be one if the most political contests in the country’s history.
Raila has lost key allies who helped him give Kibaki’s men sleepless nights ahead of the 2007 elections. Depending on who he choose as his running mate, Raila is set to lose (or gain) even more allies.
If he chooses to drop Mudavadi as his deputy, the likelihood of him losing his grip on the Luhya vote is high. If he retains Mudavadi, he is likely to loose out on other parts of the country as his presidential bid will be seen as an all Western Kenya affair.
His troubles don’t end there. In a move to endear the mass, Raila didn’t shy away from expressing his support for the prosecution of post-election violence perpetrators. But what appeared to be a good move is threatening to cost him politically after The Hague net caught on of his key allies and supporters turned foe – William Ruto.
Ruto in collaboration with Uhuru has somehow managed to convince his followers that his standing trial at ICC is Raila’s fault. It can also be perceived that Uhuru has not forgiven Rail for “stealing” the presidency from him in 2002 when the latter declared ‘Kibaki tosha’.
But Raila is loved by the masses and can easily move them to support what he wants. He has been the enigma of Kenyan politics having moved into Kanu in the run up to the 2002 elections and leaving just before the polls to leave the former ruling party in confusion.
He then moved to be the key figure of the Narc machinery that kicked out Kanu in 2002 only to fallout with the man he helped be president – Kibaki and eventually engineering the defeat of the Wako draft in 2005 and forming another political force – ODM – thereafter.
Raila enjoys the status of the incumbent having served as Prime Minister since 2008 after the formation of the grand coalition government.
Perceived as the heir of President Kibaki’s political clout in Central Kenya, Uhuru faces a daunting task in fighting accusation of involvement in the 2007 post-election violence as he prepares next year’s election. He is among the six individuals fighting accusations of crimes against humanity at The Hague as the alleged key perpetrators of the 2008 post-election violence.
If the Pre-Trial Chamber judges send the case against him to trial, the Finance Minister’s career in politics may suffer a blow with the hearings likely to kick in mid 2012. This is the same period that the next general elections in which Uhuru wants to run for the country’s top office will be held.
Uhuru has been a key player in the Kibaki succession politics and has managed to stay ahead of main rivals in Central Kenya in the opinion polls. He has also been at the centre of plans to form an alliance to edge out Raila alongside his ICC co-accused Ruto and VP Kalonzo.
Uhuru, who ran for president in 2002, is facing what some critics say may be the toughest moment in his political career. Other than the ICC, the DPM faces several critical issues that he need to shake off in order to clearly concentrate on next year’s political contest.
He is also involved in leadership wrangles in his party, Kanu, where he is also the national chairman against a group led by his deputy and a son of former President Moi – Gideon. Mr Kenyatta also has to faceoff with other presidential hopefuls around Kibaki who retires in next year.
Uhuru has somehow managed to shake off a tribal tag that has been associated with an alliance that he has been putting together with Kalonzo and Ruto. But his main headache is, just like Raila, getting a suitable running mate, getting the right strong political party and securing enough county support.
Getting the suitable running mate is key to Uhuru as one of the reasons is that he will be seeking to be president just after the second term of another Kikuyu presidency. There is also some perceived mistrust between his supporters and those of Ruto despite them appearing to work together and having the largest combined vote basket.
And so the big question remains: If this are the two men who will on a run off ballot, who will take residence in the house on the hill in 2013?