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President’s outsourcing strategy throws 2022 pact into disarray

By SUNDAY NATION WRITER
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A move by some of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s strategists to “outsource” part of his re-election campaign efforts to some regional parties outside the Jubilee Party has renewed fears that the arrangement could impact the 2022 succession pact with Deputy President William Ruto.

Even though on the one hand the Jubilee secretariat led by Mr Raphael Tuju says it has no agreement with any “friendly” party to support the President’s re-election, open engagements with various regional parties ahead of the August elections put in doubt the commitment to that position.

The latest was the Frontier Alliance Party, largely made up of leaders from Marsabit County under Governor Ukur Yattani who announced his defection from ODM while meeting President Kenyatta on Tuesday. Kanu, led by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, who is the Deputy President’s rival in the Rift Valley, had a few weeks earlier declared its support for the President, but not Mr Ruto – a curious position given the two will run on the same Jubilee ticket.

A source, who spoke in confidence, said some of the parties have indicated they will want a say in government after elections – particularly on various appointments. This is likely to have an impact on the 2013 agreement between President Kenyatta’s TNA and Mr Ruto’s URP – that have since dissolved to form Jubilee Party with an eye on the Deputy President taking over in 2022.

TWELVE PARTIES

The strategy not to lock out parties supporting President Kenyatta’s re-election is said to have arisen out of the failure of the ruling party to consolidate its strongholds under one roof after the coming together of 12 parties last year and fears of voter apathy, especially if there is a fallout after nominations.

Resurgent players in the Jubilee strongholds in Mt Kenya region among them Narc-Kenya, Party of National Unity (PNU) and the Democratic Party (DP) have warmed their way into President Kenyatta’s ever elastic list of new friends, who come with their own demands.

Apart from Fontier Alliance Party, other new outfits include refurbishment of Raphael Tuju’s 2013 presidential election vehicle, the Party of Action, which has since quietly changed hands, Kenya Patriots Party (KPP), and the Economic Freedom Party (EFP).

KPP is said to target support in the Maa community in Narok and Kajiado counties and some parts of central Kenya while EPP is largely aimed at North Eastern Kenya. The idea is those who do not want to support Jubilee outright for various reasons can still back President Kenyatta’s re-election instead of shifting their loyalty to the Opposition.

Some politicians in Narok and Kajiado have, for example, viewed Mr Ruto with suspicion as they believe he is out to expand his sphere of influence to include their region. These differences played out openly in 2014 when a planned State House visit by a delegation from Narok led by William ole Ntimama to pledge loyalty to President Kenyatta was abruptly cancelled at the last minute when the group was already in Nairobi. Mr Ntimama died last year.

‘NEGOTIATED DEMOCRACY’

A sticking complaint in some pastoralist communities that are known to use “negotiated democracy” with elders vetting and endorsing candidates, was that some of the decisions made were disregarded.

Some of the new regional outfits are expected to allow local elders room to vet and consult over candidates, and secure their preferences against JP’s “unpredictable” nominations process.

“Apart from Maasai land, it is recognised some areas in central Kenya are seriously polarised and it is logical to expect some to opt out of the Jubilee processes with legitimate reasons. They will be allowed and be supported to run on the chosen regional parties if they so wish. It is hard in some areas to tell if those who secure Jubilee tickets are the most popular to win the positions they are vying for or not,” a source close to one of the strategy think- tanks said.

A JP internal re-election strategy paper, whose story was exclusively broken by the Nation two weeks ago, mapped out this outsourcing strategy, proposing regional parties be “supported” to campaign for President Uhuru’s re-election in their strongholds. This was largely to avoid a runoff.

Leader of majority Aden Duale declined to comment on the document when we contacted him saying it was confidential.

‘INDIRECTLY SUPPORTED’

In mitigation, the paper authored in February 2016 proposed “small regional parties should not be killed, but indirectly supported”.

“The introduction of Jubilee Party as an all encompassing party…is unlikely to gain traction in swing vote areas. In Western and other areas for instance, the eminent demise of regional parties has left a vacuum that is likely to benefit Cord or promote anti-Jubilee regional chiefs” the paper says.

The “outsourcing” strategy under implementation has, however, seen new parties being crafted, and old moribund ones acquired and refurbished with funding to comply with Political Parties Act in record speed in readiness for deployment in different regions.

While the new developments seems to have borrowed heavily from retired President Mwai Kibaki’s re-election model of PNU, it leaves players like Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi, and Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa in an awkward position after enthusiastically disbanding Alliance Party of Kenya an New Ford Kenya respectively.

Article source: http://www.nation.co.ke/news/politics/president-outsourcing-strategy-throws-pact-into-disarray/1064-3855094-w3l539z/

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