August 9

Uhuru’s dilemma over State House race, transition ahead

Thursday, August 18th, 2022 00:20 | By
President Uhuru Kenyatta accompanied by Health CS Mutahi Kagwe commissions the a management centre at Dedan Kimathi University in Nyeri on August 6,2022 . PSCU

Despite several regional heads of State having sent congratulatory messages to President-elect William Ruto, his own boss,  President Uhuru Kenyatta has maintained a studious silence.

A source at State House yesterday said the President will make an announcement at the appropriate time, an indication he is still studying the unfolding situation.

After Ruto’s main competitor, Raila Odinga of Azimio-One Kenya coalition on Tuesday rejected the outcome of the presidential poll, the President finds himself in a delicate situation as chairman of Azimio and also as Head of State.

As Head of State, the law expects him to ensure a smooth handing over to the next administration, but that will mean he has to put aside his hat as chairman of Azimio’s governing council, the top decision-making organ of the outfit that Raila vied for the presidency on.

Which way will the President go? That is a question that political observers are keenly waiting to find answers to. Only Uhuru has that answer, and he has not shown his card yet.

Meanwhile, the National Security Advisory Committee chaired by his confidant, Joseph Kinyua, who is also the Head of the Public Service, has said the announcement of the presidential election results now sets in motion the constitutional processes that will facilitate the transition.

No winner

On Monday, Ruto said the President had not spoken to him after he was declared as the winner of the election. Yesterday, a day after he was gazetted as president-elect, he said his Kenya Kwanza Coalition team would be forwarding names of members who will sit in the transition committee.

Quite tellingly, Ruto also confirmed that he had talked to Raila before Wafula Chebukati, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman, announced the results at Bomas of Kenya.

Raila on Tuesday, said Chebukati’s announcement amounted to a nullity and that there was no winner of the presidential election and, thus, no President-Elect.

In December 2002, then outgoing President Moi called and congratulated then incoming president Kibaki, who had then defeated the candidate of the exiting Head of State’s choice, Uhuru, the Kanu candidate at the time.

Supreme Court

A similar trend was to be repeated in 2013, when Kibaki, as outgoing President, showered praises on his successor, wishing him well in all his endeavours.

Ruto, who said he had not talked to his boss for months, was declared winner of the presidential poll after he garnered 7,176,141 votes (50.49 per cent) against Raila’s 6,942,930 votes (48.85 per cent).

The declaration is likely to be challenged at the Supreme Court, which has signalled it is ready to receive presidential election petitions in the next one week.

The politics around Uhuru’s succession has been dominated by his falling out with his deputy and his endorsement of Raila.

In the countdown to the elections, Uhuru, while commissioning development projects in various parts of the country, drummed up support for Raila, saying the 77-year-old leader had the qualities to take the country forward.

The President had also been keen in playing up the reform credentials of Raila’s running mate, Martha Karua, who he said, had what it takes to deal with corruption.

Political analyst and former lecturer at USIU-Africa Macharia Munene told People Daily that  although Uhuru’s continued silence could send wrong signals to some quarters, it was probable that the President was still seeking advise before making his position public. “It is possible that the President is still consulting widely as the head of State before he takes a decision,” Prof Macharia said.

With Raila rejecting the outcome of the poll, the political observer said the President has found himself in an awkward position. He has to decide whether to accept the results in his capacity as the Head of State or reject them in solidarity with Azimio. Neither choice is easy.

“He is in a dilemma and has to decide fast to wriggle himself out of it. But he must first consider himself as the President of the Republic of Kenya, before anything else,” said Macharia.

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