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Never before has an opposition leader simply thrown in the towel the way Mr Kenyatta has done

Posted by African Press International on September 14, 2007

Uhuru: Why I will campaign for Kibaki”

Story by LUCAS BARASA and BERNARD NAMUNANE History was made yesterday, when the Leader of the Official Opposition withdrew from the presidential race and threw his weight behind the incumbent.

Uhuru Kenyatta, Kanu Chairman

Mr Uhuru Kenyatta then rallied his party Kanu to back President Kibaki in the December General Election.

The independence party immediately appointed a nine-member team to join negotiations with parties supportive of the Head of States re-election.

Its is the first time in the world that a Leader of the Official Opposition has pulled out of the election race to cast his lot with the incumbent.

The decision also cemented the split of Kanu into two groups, one behind Mr Kenyatta, and the other behind Eldoret North MP William Ruto, who is firmly in ODM.

Move confirmed

The Gatundu South MPs move confirmed long-held speculation that the Kanu chairman would not vie for the presidency to improve his political fortunes in 2012. Last weekend, Mr Kenyatta attended talks with parties friendly to President Kibaki for a possible coalition in Naivasha, alongside Cabinet ministers Musikari Kombo, Mutahi Kagwe, Raphael Tuju, Henry Obwocha and David Mwiraria.

He now joins his political mentor, retired president Daniel arap Moi, who last month declared support for the Head of State and embarked on campaign rallies.

Yesterday, Mr Kenyatta made the historic announcement after a national executive council meeting at Kanu headquarters in Nairobi and said he saw no reason of contesting the presidency while he knew his party had little chance of winning. I cant just vie for the sake of vying. I can only do so when sure of winning.

The Kanu chairman said he had no regrets not contesting the presidency despite being Leader of the Official Opposition and that his and Kanus interest was being in the next government.

Talking tough, he said the objective of political parties was to form a government and that Kanu was to be realistic and know that it was not able to field a presidential candidate and secure a win.

Next government

Our goal and objective is that we must form part of the next government and achieve political power, he said flanked by MPs Marsden Madoka (Mwatate), Yusuf Haji (Ijara), Naomi Shaban (Taveta) and Justin Muturi (Siakago).

The team to negotiate with Kibaki friendly parties will also hold talks with the President.

To be chaired by Mr Kenyatta, the team will also hold talks with ODM-Kenya, the chairman said. This could be to accommodate the interests of Kanu organising secretary Gideon Ndambuki who has of late been seen in ODM-Kenya meetings. He attended yesterdays meeting.

Those named to the committee are MPs Muturi, Madoka, Haji, Shaaban, Nicholas Biwott (Keiyo South), Paul Sang (Buret), former Cabinet minister Sam Ongeri and former Mombasa mayor Taib Ali Taib.

Indications that Mr Kenyatta was headed for talks with the pro-Kibaki parties became clear three weeks ago when he held a dinner meeting with Mr Kombo the Ford-K chairman, who is leading the pro-Kibaki team at China Plate Restaurant in Nairobi.

It is understood that he laid on the table his conditions, including that Kanu being allowed to field parliamentary and civic candidates in its strongholds. Other parties in the talks include the Democratic Party, Ford People, Narc Kenya, Safina, Shirikisho and Sisi kwa Sisi.

Sources said President Kibaki had indicated his willingness to work with the Gatundu South MP in his next government should he win.

Asked why he opted to support the Government he had been opposing since 2003, Mr Kenyatta said: We are entering into negotiations on a number of issues we want addressed. We will support (President Kibaki) if our interests are accommodated. He said Kanus support would only be on account that the 47-year-old party was not dissolved.

Accommodate Biwott

Mr Kenyatta said yesterdays NEC resolved that Kanu branches be harmonised to accommodate a third splinter allied to Mr Biwott. The Saturday Nation had predicted that Mr Kenyatta might opt out of the Presidential race and support President Kibaki.

Never before has an opposition leader simply thrown in the towel the way Mr Kenyatta has done. While opposition parties the world over have been known to withdraw from leadership races for instance in Nicaragua in 1984, Jordan in 1998, or Albania last summer they normally do so to protest a rigged electoral system or an unjust regime.

At worst it may be a political tactic. Lebanons opposition is threatening to boycott a forthcoming election to deny the victor quorum, which would prevent him from legally assuming office.

Political analysts say Mr Kenyatta was caught in a tricky situation. If he were to run for presidency, he would have very little support even from his own constituency.

kibaki_0709072.jpg<President Kibaki

NowKibaki is almost guaranteed a win – a second term in office, throwing ODM’s Raila splinter group into disarray.

Lifted and published by Korir, africanpress@chello.no tel +4793299739 or +4763002525 source.nation.ke

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