African Press International (API)

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Kibaki-Moi courtship to balance Kenya politics

Posted by African Press International on August 30, 2007

By Martin Mutua

Former President Daniel Moi has endorsed Mr Mwai Kibaki for a second term in State House. Mr Moi confirmed what had become increasingly evident his preference for the Othaya MP.

Moi, who ruled for 24 years, said that after a careful assessment, he was convinced Kibaki ought to be given a chance to complete the constitutionally accepted two-term tenure.

The momentous declaration which though expected sent shockwaves within the political arena on Tuesday is likely to touch off a possible tide of realignments.

But Mois declaration immediately sparked off a barrage of criticism, largely from the Orange Democratic Movement, and infuriated a potentially important ally in the Kibaki comeback plan, Kaddus Mr Cyrus Jirongo.

But for others, however, they saw a boost for the Presidents re-election drive, especially in the Rift Valley, which has lately been the stomping ground for ODM.

 

ODM presidential aspirants dismissed as tribalists

 

Addressing a press conference at his Kabarnet Gardens in Nairobi, Moi suggested that the younger generation was not embracing nationalistic ideals. Instead, he saw them as being driven by narrow interests.

“That is why you have heard them splitting from one to two and they will continue splitting and in the end there will be nothing zero!,” he added.

Dismissing ODM presidential aspirants as tribalists, Moi said none of them had spelt their development agenda through a manifesto on what they intended to do for instance in health, education among others.

“All one hears is high-sounding rhetoric, giving false hopes to the people as if a politician can develop the country in exclusion of individual participation and hard work of every Kenyan. While imagination and creativity are in order, pragmatism is a must,” he added.

In ODM Mr Raila Odinga, Mr Musalia Mudavadi, Mr William Ruto, Mr Najib Balala and Mr Joseph Nyagah will face it off at a special party National Delegates Conference on Saturday that is expected to pick ODMs presidential flag bearer.

This will be a day after ODM-Kenya, which has Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, Dr Julia Ojiambo and Ms Nazlin Umar, will have picked its own candidate.

 

Kanu appeared to distance itself from declaration

 

On Tuesday, Moi said having been the Kenyan President and symbol of nationhood for over 24 years, it would be inappropriate for him to support any brand of politics that is not nationalistic in outlook and committed.

“My reason for this decision is that President Kibaki, by virtue of his office as Head of State is a symbol of nationhood,” he said.

The Independence party, Kanu, whose stewardship Moi ensured went to Gatundu South MP Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, in 2002, however, appeared to distance itself from the declaration.

Uhuru instead said Kanu had structures that had the mandate to deliberate and agree on such weighty matters before going public.

Mois pronouncement also came a day after a major political meeting spearheaded by Cabinet minister Kipruto Kirwa and Keiyo South MP Mr Nicholas Biwott and which 17 MPs from Rift Valley attended in Naivasha.

Moi went on to declare that he would shortly hit the road to campaign for the re-election of President Kibaki, saying that since his retirement from the presidency in 2002 he has keenly been observing the trend of Kenyas politics and the disposition of its players. He, however, asserted that he would remain an active and staunch member of Kanu.

 

Move could radically reshape political landscape

And analysts who spoke to The Standard had varied interpretations on the significance of the move, whose ramifications could radically reshape the political landscape ahead of the elections, which President Kibaki said yesterday in Kilifi would be in three months time.

They said though the endorsement was a boost to Kibakis re-election, but could backfire especially in the expansive Rift Valley, which Moi hopes to rally behind his preferred candidate.

“On the contrary it (Mois endorsement of Kibaki) could work against Kibakis re-election. Moi has endorsed Kibaki for his own political insurance and not because he likes Kibaki as a president,” said Mr Mutahi Ngunyi. “ODM will get support in the Rift Valley.”

Dr Adams Oloo postulated that Mois endorsement could add weight to Kibakis re-election the same way Mois political stand tilted the balance in favour of Opposition at the referendum on the draft Constitution in 2005.

But he cautioned that the retired President had lost his invincibility and the Kalenjin (read Rift Valley) are unlikely to follow him, citing a growing perception that the future of the community was with the (young generation) and not the older generation.

 

Mois support for Kibaki as a major plus

 

Oloo said by supporting Kibakis re-election, he was by extension saying Kanu and its chairman Uhuru Kenyatta should support the incumbent.

Prof Macharia Munene described Mois support for Kibaki as a major “plus” for the incumbent, adding that the retired President was motivated by continuity and stability.

“Moi has nothing to gain as a person. But he is interested for the stability of the country in the coming years,” said Munene. He said the backing was a major statement of the trust he has on Kibakis stewardship.

Former detainee, Prof Richard Oyugi, said Moi was entitled to his opinion, but had no business telling Kenyans whom to elect as their president.

“For Kibaki to accept the endorsement means that his policies are not different from those of Moi,” added Oyugi.

Making the announcement, Moi said he was concerned with the interests of Kenyans and national stability.Asked why he was supporting Kibaki yet he humiliated him at the handover in 2002, Moi said he had forgiven.

Said he: “If I was to revenge, do you think we would be having a country now? I am a Christian and believe in peace and that Kenya is more important than Moi or any individual.”

 

Additional reporting by Murigi Macharia

Lifted and publishedby Korir, API*APN africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.standard.ke

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