How Uhuru, Ruto allies shattered Mudavadi hopes
A new book has pulled back the curtains to reveal how a political deal that would have seen then Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi succeed President Mwai Kibaki was scuttled in 2013.
The memoir, For The Record, which is written and published by Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale, says if the deal had gone through as initially conceived, Musalia, then the United Democratic Front (UDF) presidential aspirant, would have been nominated to run for the presidency as a Jubilee Alliance Party candidate in 2013.
At the time, Jubilee was an amalgamation of Uhuru Kenyatta’s The National Alliance (TNA) and William Ruto’s United Republican Party (URP).
According to the memoir, which was launched in Nairobi yesterday, Mudavadi’s candidature was being propped up by powerful individuals in President Kibaki’s kitchen Cabinet and they were piling pressure on Uhuru and Ruto to delay their ambitions to pave way for Mudavadi.
So secretive was the deal that, according to Duale, the final declaration by Uhuru and Ruto that they had decided to back Mudavadi caught the allies of the two flatfooted.
Duale sensationally narrates how he felt ambushed and betrayed when the deal was made public. Ostensibly, Uhuru and Ruto were under pressure not to run because they were facing crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) cases.
In an interview with Spice FM yesterday, Duale claimed that the case was part of a wider conspiracy to ensure that former Prime Minister Raila Odinga had a clear path to win the presidency allegedly with the support of western countries, particularly the European Union.
And as he narrates in the 360-page book, the fateful day turned out to be an uneasy one for Members of Parliament allied to Uhuru and Ruto when they all failed to reach either of the two leaders at a time when campaigns had hit fever pitch. Late in the evening, Duale says, Ruto hurriedly called them to the Laico Regency in Nairobi but it was not immediately clear what was happening. Owing to the heavy evening traffic, Duale and a few other MPs chose to walk from Parliament to get to the hotel.
“It was unlikely for Ruto to ask me to Laico. We never met there. I knew something was up,” narrates Duale.
The news that Ruto gave them when they got to the hotel left them dumbfounded,” Duale says.
At the lobby, they were met by upbeat Mudavadi allies who left no doubt that a deal had been struck and that Uhuru would be withdrawing from the presidential race in favour of Mudavadi.
Duale describes how upset he felt that a deal had been made without his knowledge, despite being significant in the coalition.
“No, you guys. He can’t do that,” Duale responded to the news he had just received.
According to him, he understood the magnitude of the situation when he saw a battery of journalists streaming into the hotel, ready to report about a major announcement that was to be made.
Moments later, Ruto, Mudavadi and Uhuru arrived to the venue and headed to the private members’ club. Since Duale was among the senior URP leaders, he, too, was allowed in. There, he saw lawyers passing around paperwork that Ruto, Mudavadi and Uhuru signed.
“What are you people signing? ... We need to know,” he told them.
“Relax, I will tell you. Just relax,” Ruto replied.
Shortly thereafter, he watched in disbelief as the three announced the that Uhuru had stepped down in favour of Mudavadi but Ruto would still retain the position of Deputy President on the ticket.
“When the press conference ended, they shook hands, hugged and raised hands in solidarity. I had been betrayed yet again. I followed Ruto to his car,” says Duale.
“What is happening? I will not go home until you tell me exactly what happened today. What was that? I am not a trophy or a rubber stamp in Jubilee. You do not make decisions like these without consulting us,” Duale recounts saying.
After the announcement, Ruto headed to the airport but Duale followed him there because he could not understand what was happening and needed an explanation. It was then that Ruto told him that Uhuru had acted under pressure from close political associates and some of President Kibaki’s inner circle who had told him to quit due to case he was facing at the ICC.
Duale says in his book that Uhuru and his family’s investments were likely to suffer and so would the country because of the cases. Because of this, in his opinion, Uhuru succumbed to pressure.
The CS adds that he was also told Kibaki’s inner circle believed Mudavadi was “a safe pair of hands” and a malleable, neutral leader, who was appealing to the international community.
He was still not satisfied with the new twist and wanted to know whether they could do something about it. His fears grew when an elder called him he told him the deal would see them lose the presidency “early in the morning” to their closest rival, Raila Odinga.
Many of Ruto’s and Uhuru’s allies could not believe what had happened and even sought audience with Uhuru to try and make sense of the deal. Ruto also saw the danger of the deal and challenged his allies to find a way to revert to the original deal between him and Uhuru, under which Uhuru was to be the presidential candidate, Ruto his running mate and Duale Leader of Majority Party if they won the 2013 election.
In the midst of all that was happening, Duale received a call from Mudavadi, who wanted to know why he was trying to scuttle the deal.
“Aden my brother, I want to work with you in my government. What is it you want for the Muslims and pastoralists? Mudavadi asked him.
Duale responded saying he wanted to work with Mudavadi.
“But I am told you and Kabogo want to scuttle the agreement we signed with Uhuru and Ruto?” Mudavadi asked.
“No, we just want a democratic process. We want the deal to be ratified by delegates. We want a deal with our people and we have to be very respectful of their wishes,” said Duale, who, at the time, was on his way to a campaign rally in Narok.
In Narok, Duale told their supporters he was happy with the deal but was categorical that they would not adopt political party dictatorship and boardroom decisions in the Jubilee Alliance. He said that the coalition parties comprising URP, TNA and now UDF needed a national delegates conference to endorse a joint candidate.
Around the same time, Uhuru’s close allies met him and pushed him to agree to the proposal of a delegates’ conference.
“They told him that if the West leaned on Mudavadi, they could even get him to abandon Uhuru at ICC. They told him to announce that he was walking back on the deal. They told me he was shattered… he agonised about a way to soften the blow when he finally delivered the message to Mudavadi and indirectly to the powerful power brokers in Kibaki’s kitchen Cabinet,” Duale writes.
Uhuru later announced at a press conference that though his people agreed with what he had done, the decision on who became the party’s flagbearer was not his and that it was not to be made in a boardroom.
“It is at this point that he (Uhuru) blamed the devil for his decision to hand over the presidential ticket to Mudavadi… Shetani ameshindwa kabisa. Uhuru announced. The devil is defeated,” Duale narrates.
With the sudden turn of events, Mudavadi was, of course, not happy especially because it was Uhuru who had made the initial offer.
“He (Uhuru) had promised Mudavadi that he had consulted his key advisors before the deal only for it to turn out that he had in fact dodged his trusted allies the whole day to avoid explaining the deal to them,” Duale narrates.
Efforts by Uhuru to convince Mudavadi that he would bring him aboard the Jubilee government were futile.
“These were empty words to stroke Mudavadi’s ego after the public spectacle of embarrassment that knocked the wind off Mudavadi’s presidential campaign,” Duale writes.
Mudavadi, however, maintained that there was still room to discuss and resolve the situation, hoping that Uhuru would change his mind and that his allies would reject the idea of a delegates’ conference.
“What Mudavadi did not know was that we had achieved our goal to get Uhuru and Ruto back at the helm of Jubilee ticket. He was done. We had an election to win.”
And win they did, with Uhuru garnering 6.1 million votes against Raila’s 5.3 million. The rest of the story, for the record, is in Duale’s memoir.