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Uhuru Kenyatta’s tough task of picking successor to face William Ruto in 2022

by Enock Ndayala

As the country inches closer to the highly anticipated General Election in 2022, speculation is rife on who Uhuru Kenyatta shall pick as his successor.

In the run-up to the 2017 General Election, William Ruto was Uhuru’s obvious successor in that when he does his two terms the deputy president would be endorsed. Not anymore.

The president has instead kept friends and critics guessing and like the beautiful clever girl in the neighborhood, he has left every man salivating over his attention.

With William Ruto seemingly obviously out of the equation among Uhuru’s possible successors after falling out with the Jubilee party hierarchy, the question on every Kenyan’s lip is who shall the head of state back to succeed him?

“They think because I am going home in 2022 I will not have a word on what will happen. I will have something to say when the right time comes,” Uhuru said in November 2018 regarding his successor at a rally in Nyeri.

Some political analysts wonder if Uhuru will manage to become the first-ever president to pick a successor who will go on to win the presidency.

It is worth remembering Uhuru himself was picked as successor to Kenya’s second and longest-serving president, late Daniel Moi. Uhuru did not win until 11 years later.

“(Daniel) Moi was unable to impose (Uhuru) Kenyatta on Kenya even with unbridled imperial powers. Can Kenyatta, with diminished powers, choose his successor where his mentor — the “professor of politics” — failed?… Can Jomo’s son cheat history?” tweeted political analyst Makau Mutua.

Speculation was rife Uhuru would back ODM leader Raila Odinga following their friendly working relationship since the famous handshake on March 8, 2018.

But the entry of Gideon Moi, Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka, and super CS Fred Matiang’I over time has complicated matters far beyond a Raila candidacy with some observers believing there will be three possible scenarios ahead of the 2022 General Elections.

“If elections were to be called now, there would be three political factions; 1 The Hustler Movement with DP (William) Ruto as flag bearer 2. The (Gideon) Moi Legacy Team comprising Kalonzo, Gideon Moi, Wetangula, and Musalia Mudavadi with  Gideon as their flag bearer. 3. The Raila (Odinga)-led a disgruntled group of (Charity) Ngilu, (Mukhisa) Kituyi and (Kivutha) Kibwana,” tweeted renowned political analyst Edward Kisiang’ani on March 6.

Other observers believe Uhuru Kenyatta should place his bet on Raila Odinga as opposed to wasting time on an emerging alliance of Gideon Moi, Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka, and Moses Wetangula which lacks the much needed national appeal to win a presidency.

Raila, it is believed has the needed nationwide support and is the only politician who can face an aggressive and highly experienced politician in the mold of William Ruto in the 2022 General Election.

Raila Odinga on campaign

Raila’s party recently accused State House of aiding Mudavadi’s presidential bid during the Matunga by-election which was marred by violent scenes.

“ODM had no expectations that we would be supported by the government in Matungu by-election or that Uhuru will say Raila Tosha in 2022. Our biggest complaint is that state machinery was used to prop up Mualia Mudavadi,” Said ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna a few days after the by-election where ODM’s candidate came second.

Raila’s brother Obutu Odinga has been repeatedly quoted saying the ODM leader must and shall be on the presidential ballot come 2022. Raila himself has remained silent over the matter.

Not much has been said about Mukhisa Kituyi who recently declared his presidential ambition but there were speculations he could be fronted by State House operatives as a compromise presidential candidate in 2022.

At 65 years of age, the former 2-time UN Conference on Trade Development boss had been touted as a possible candidate to be backed by both Uhuru and Raila Odinga.

While he has been in politics long enough, his obvious lack of considerable grassroots support just like Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetangula, and Gideon Moi could however be his greatest undoing.

Super CS Fred Matiang’I who has impressed in various ministries under Uhuru’s government has also been listed informally as a possible pick to succeed Uhuru.

Like Mukhisa, he appears to have impressive credentials but without a considerable political base and national appeal, it remains to be seen if Uhuru can gamble with him as a successor.

Either way, it will be no doubt a delicate balance for Uhuru as he tries to pick a successor- will he go for a big name or a name from a known big political family? Shall he settle for a complete outsider and hope to pull some miracle?

William Ruto’s hustler vs dynasty narrative also puts Uhuru in a tight corner in that should he pick a big name, he walks straight into Ruto’s trap and the candidate shall not have it easy proving he/she is not a rich-mans project.

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