August 9

Uhuru’s options in retirement

Thursday, September 8th, 2022 05:00 | By
First sitting of new parliament set for Thursday
Retired President Uhuru Kenyatta. PHOTO/Courtesy.

The presence of outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta at yesterday’s Azimio-One Kenya Coalition party parliamentary group meeting has fuelled speculation about his political plans in retirement.

The President, who chairs the Azimio Council, attended the opposition coalition’s meeting to strategize on how to capture key seats in Parliament when it commences its sittings today.

On the previous day, Uhuru had visited former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Nairobi home after he poked holes in the Supreme Court’s ruling on the presidential petition which confirmed William Ruto’s election.

The President’s actions have provoked thoughts over the role he intends to play when he exits the State House after handing over power on Tuesday.

Since the declaration of Ruto’s victory by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati on August 15, Uhuru had taken a break from the limelight, and only resurfaced in Mombasa - a day before the Supreme Court ruling - alongside Azimio leaders among them former Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and his successor Abdulswamad Nassir.

Yesterday, photos of Uhuru visiting Raila at his Karen home on Monday evening went viral on social media.

Raila lost the August 9 election to Ruto, who Uhuru had campaigned against.

While Raila could be getting ready to lead the Azimio troops in the National Assembly and the Senate, Uhuru, who has been part of the government since 2008 when he was one of the two deputy prime ministers, will be heading to retirement.

But perhaps with a role to play in the opposition coalition, Uhuru may not be completely missing from the political arena.

In the past, Uhuru has indicated that though he was leaving office, he was “going nowhere”.

“If elders send me to solve a problem or send me on a task, I will do the work. We will all be in this country sharing the same problems and issues,” he said.

His appearance with Raila at the Azimio parliamentary group meeting - while Ruto was holding a similar meeting with Kenya Kwanza MPs in Karen - only served to fuel speculation that Uhuru may still be a factor in local politics.

At the gathering in Kajiado, Uhuru told the legislators not to agree to be “bought” to cross over to Kenya Kwanza.

He said that while he will hand over power to Ruto “smiling” as the Constitution requires of him, Raila will remain his preferred leader.

“Don’t think that you have denied Raila. You have denied yourself the opportunity of bringing the country together,” he added.

Going nowhere

Pundits argue that given his relatively young age and the fact that he is the chairman of Azimio, which garnered substantial number of MPs and more than six million votes, he is likely to sustain his war against Ruto.

Prof Macharia Munene, a historian and a political analyst says that from his decision to visit Raila and even attend yesterday’s PG meeting, Uhuru was sending a signal that he was going nowhere.

“He created Azimio coalition together with Raila and being the chairman, it’s expected that he will be regrouping the troops to give them confidence even if they lost the presidency. He has shown that he has not given up on dealing with Ruto. Symbolically, he has demonstrated that he wants the coalition to be active by rebuilding it to ensure that it gives Ruto some work to do,” Macharia said.

On Monday, Uhuru affirmed he will ensure a peaceful transition to the incoming administration but failed to mention Ruto.

He also criticized the Supreme Court’s decision to throw out Azimio’s petition against Ruto’s election.

“Has there been a consistent pattern that is acceptable to our democratic ethos? We must ask ourselves, is it about the numbers or is it about the process? Which of these two is it? And can our institutions rule one way in another election and another in another election without scrutiny?” Uhuru wondered.

Raila also said he had accepted the judgment but disagreed with the court decision on the election.

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