By OLIVER MATHENGE email@example.com
Posted Saturday, December 31 2011 at 22:00
Posted Saturday, December 31 2011 at 22:00
- It’s no easy ride for political giants with local headaches to deal with away from the national platform
The race to be Kenya’s fourth president is expected to gain momentum in the New Year with the General Election expected in August or December, depending on the outcome of a court case expected later this month.
Almost 20 Kenyans have expressed interest in seeking the country’s top job though opinion polls place few of them as front runners.
This could also be the first presidential election in Kenya in which two candidates could face each other in a run-off in case the first round of voting does not produce a clear winner.
The threshold for victory in the next election is made even igher by the fact the Constitution requires the winner to garner 50 per cent plus one of the votes and 25 per cent in 24 counties.
A major headache for the leading presidential aspirants is that they have attracted opposition in their own backyards. The aspirants are also faced with the challenge of selecting key political strategists, parties and running mates.
Mr Odinga came close to the presidency in 2007, but President Kibaki was controversially declared the winner after a hotly contested election.
The ODM leader faced hardly any opposition in his western region stronghold.
This time around, however, Mr Odinga, whose roots are in Nyanza, has a local headache to contend with — whether to retain his deputy leader in the Orange party, Mr Musalia Mudavadi, who hails from neighbouring Western Province, as his running mate.
The other challenge — seen as a big issue by his rivals and a nuisance by his avowed supporters — is the presidential ambition of former minister Raphael Tuju who hails from Luo Nyanza. He has tried to distance himself from accusations that he is a spoiler for the PM.
Mr Tuju has as well had to live with the notion that he is a President Kibaki project, having worked as an adviser to the Head of State until early last year.
Other than working to fight the notion that Kenya should not have another Kikuyu president after Mr Kibaki, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, the deputy prime minister, has to contend with a growing number of aspiring candidates from central Kenya.
Former Justice minister Martha Karua and assistant minister Peter Kenneth are the other key players from the region who have declared their interest in the presidency.
Ms Karua and Mr Kenneth have declined a persistent offer by Mr Kenyatta to jointly hold nominations so that the region has a single presidential candidate.
Ms Karua is also facing her own political battles on her home turf of Kirinyaga county where Mr Kenyatta’s allies are fighting to neutralise her threat to the deputy prime minister’s bid.
And she has to fend off pressure from elders and businesspeople from central Kenya to abandon her presidential bid and support Mr Kenyatta.
Mr Kenneth faces a similar dilemma to Ms Karua’s but also denies allegations that his candidature is meant to split the Mount Kenya vote and deny Mr Kenyatta the chance of becoming the next occupant of State House when President Kibaki retires.
Some of his critics have termed his entry in the race as a strategy of courting Mr Odinga to pick him as his running mate — a suggestion he has dismissed.
Eldoret North MP William Ruto is taking the shot at the presidency for the first time after supporting Mr Odinga in 2007 before they fell out.
His major headache is turning out to be professionals from his Kalenjin community who accuse him of pursuing a personal agenda rather than the community’s interests.
For Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, who came in third in the 2007 race, the greatest challenge in his Ukambani region remains his rivalry with Water minister Charity Ngilu.
Ms Ngilu and a group of MPs from Ukambani, including Wavinya Ndeti and Kiema Kilonzo, have openly voiced their frustration with the way the VP plays politics in the area in his second bid for the presidency.Their differences have more than once played out in public with the most infamous being the refusal by Mrs Ngilu to shake Mr Musyoka’s hand in front of TV cameras.
Internal Security minister George Saitoti is another aspirant who has lingering local issues as he seeks a solid launching pad for the tough war ahead.
Prof Saitoti, the Kajiado North MP. has also to contend with the fact that Education permanent secretary James ole Kiyapi, who comes from Kilgoris in neighbouring Narok county, also seeks the local community’s endorsement for the highest office in the land.