Kenya is likely to be faced with another “41 against 1” scenario in next year’s general elections especially if there is a run-off pitting Raila Odinga against Uhuru Kenyatta. And this appears to be Raila’s latest strategy with his call for Uhuru and Ruto to be allowed to contest the presidency despite their ICC baggage.
If I were Uhuru’s strategists, I would call my troops back to the drawing board and come up with a new way of ensuring that there is an outright win in the first round. Even as Kenya struggles with fighting tribal politics, the anti-Kikuyu presidency sentiments are a reality that may just defeat G7’s original idea of blocking Raila’s presidency.
But it is not only Raila who can benefit from a run-off with Uhuru. Even Mudavadi has a better chance of being president if he faces Uhuru at the run-off. But Raila is assured of the presidency as long as he faces Uhuru at the run-off and thus his latest change in tune.
Raila is one of the few unpredictable politicians in Kenya and the change in tune on whether his rivals facing charges at the ICC should be on the ballot may not have surprised many. This is because he usually changes tact as days progress and his reading of the political environment.
It is clear that Raila now wants his rivals – Uhuru and Ruto – on the ballot despite their charges at the ICC. In this, he sees a well calculated opportunity for him to ascend to the Presidency without been seen to have used foreign forces but riding on the will of the people.
Raila knows that if Ruto, Uhuru, Mudavadi and Kalonzo are all on the ballot, he can win the first round and most likely face Uhuru at the run-off. Here, he would be assured of a win by riding on the “Kenya should not have another Kikuyu president after Kibaki” wave. Rift Valley and Western Kenya which would most likely vote against him in the first round would have a high chance of voting for him in the run-off.
These are the reasons why Raila is counting on a win at a second round vote in the run-off.
To start with, the amorphous G7 Alliance will field more than a single candidate in the elections. The communities from where Uhuru, Ruto, Kalonzo and Mudavadi come from expect them to be on the ballot as Presidential candidates. There is no assurance that if Uhuru is supported by Ruto, the latter’s supporters would support it and the reverse also stands.
By fragmenting their support base, politicians in the G7 Alliance will help Raila capture first position in the election but deny him the 50 per cent plus one vote that is needed to be President. Uhuru appears to be the most likely candidate to take second position in the first round but is not likely to beat Raila in a run-off.
The key reason why Uhuru is not likely to beat Raila in the run-off is because he is not assured of Ruto, Mudavadi or Kalonzo’s support. The three politicians lead supporters who share in the sentiments that a Kikuyu should not be president after Kibaki. It is therefore likely, regardless of what kind of agreement that the G7 politicians will make, that their supporters will not support Uhuru in the run-off.