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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 4 January 2015


Raila Odinga starts 2015 a happy man, with much to chew on his table and to lay the foundation for another stab at the 2017 presidential elections and beyond in his elaborate political career.
His only headache for now is how to navigate the two crucial by-elections, one  in Homa Bay for the senator’s portfolio and Kajiado Central constituency parliamentary seat to replace Joseph Nkaissery, now Interior cabinet secretary though he is from the opposition Cord.
The Kajiado Central seat which has been in ODM hands is a tricky one in a region that is politically volatile going by the current happenings in Maasai politics. Raila’s key pointmen in the region, William Ntimama and Nkaissery, have orbited to Uhuru Kenyatta’s TNA.
The two are said to be concerned to the core that William Ruto’s men in Maasai political have been out to relegate them to the periphery.
By accommodating Nkaissery, Uhuru was out to endear himself to opposition-leaning Maasai vote bloc ahead of 2017. He late last year hosted Narok governor Samuel Tunai to strike a truce to try to end the political impasse.
As Uhuru works on his re-election strategies, Raila is said not to be leaving anything to chance or for granted. Although he is the face of the opposition to the Security Laws Act assented to by his arch rival, Uhuru that led to the opposition moving to court and winning round one in the tussle, in his heart, Raila is actually pleased by the Jubilee regime’s biggest blunder so far – the goof!
Raila is quietly telling his biggest backers and funders that Uhuru and his deputy, William Ruto, have just thrown away the Muslim vote with the passage of the anti-terror Act.
If Raila and his co-principals play their cards rightly so, to them, with Jubilee having kissed the considerable Islamic constituency vote goodbye due to a number of blunders, the centre holds in a widening turning gyre.
 From the attacks to mosques, killing of radical Muslim leaders, to profiling of Somalis in the community’s Nairobi Eastleigh and South C enclaves and the recent antiterror laws, to Raila, they have all alienated Jubilee from the influential Muslim vote of which he is likely to capitalise on.
Raila is also laughing at the president, sneering at the lack of foresight and strategic thinking of Uhuru’s key advisers that if well capitalised on, could as well see Jubilee thrown out of the throne in 2017.
Raila has two key by-elections to win, or lose, in 2015; the senatorial seat left vacant by the passing on of Otieno Kajwang’ and the Kajiado Central seat.
Raila’s biggest ambition of 2015 is to build new formidable political alliances and bring on board a number of those who lost the presidential race in 2017 and their allies. Already, Martha Karua who ran on Narc-K ticket has joined the Raila bandwagon. Raila is said to be using a number of Vihiga county MPs led by Yusuf Chanzu and Senator George Khaniri to have Musalia Mudavadi who ran on UDF ticket for the presidency and who at one time  was allied  to Jubilee together with Eugene Wamalwa, to  shift political base to the opposition.
 Mudavadi and Wamalwa have since been sidelined from Jubilee courtesy of Ruto, who is not comfortable as he plots for his presidential bid after Uhuru.
Apart from Karua, Raila has made another major catch in the name of Senator Bonny Khalwale as he forms new alliances. 
He is also said to have his eyes set on Senator Murungi Kiraitu in Meru region. Kiraitu and his team have been openly complaining that Jubilee has sidelined them in the region preferring to work with Kindiki Kithure team. Political heat is in the region all the way to Embu with Raila and his team of Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula keenly watching the scene.  
Raila is building new alliances as he sets eyes on the national referendum on grounds that Jubilee presumably cannot win. His scheme is that by beating Jubilee at exactly the midpoint of their first term, the opposition stands a good chance at blocking a second term. In order for this to happen, two referendum campaigns must come together and galvanise Kenyans. The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy Okoa Kenya campaign must join the governors Pesa Mashinani to give Jubilee the beating of its life and set the ground for a titanic battle come 2017.
It is on this basis the chairman of the governor’s council is being brought into the fold by the opposition. Also on the radar are rebel Kalenjin MPs, professionals and tycoons who funded URP in 2013 but have since been denied lucrative business deals.
 From the Great Rift Valley, Raila camp apart from Governor Ruto is angling towards Kericho governor Paul Chepkwony, Cleophas Langat of Nandi and Elgeyo Marakwet Alex Tolgos. Raila is aware the said governors are marked men by Ruto allies and are sponsoring candidates to take them on 2017. 
But Raila’s biggest gamble remains the calculus that Ruto’s case at the International Criminal Court does not collapse like Uhuru’s and the DP is obliged to leave the Jubilee cabinet and politics by an adverse outcome. For this to happen, Ruto does not even need to be jailed; a judgment that seizes his assets for redistribution as reparations for the PEV victims is enough to undo him for life. This means he will have been found guilty of crimes against humanity and graduate from a suspect to a convict. If he is jailed, even for a very short time, his public career is over too and to the oblivion.
There is no love lost between Ruto and Raila, the man the DP refers to as “Yule jamaa wa vitendawili (that fellow full of riddles)”. If it were not for Ruto joining hands with Uhuru at the 2013 general elections, Raila would have become the fourth president of Kenya today.
Raila’s biggest game plan and political big picture is to make Uhuru not only a one-term president.  If Ruto is sunk by the ICC and the Kikuyu-Kalenjin political pact of which Jubilee is made of comes unstuck, the son of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga is confident that the son of Jomo Kenyatta cannot manage a second term in State House by 2017.
Ruto’s downfall could see Baringo senator Gideon Moi fortunes emerge. However Gideon Moi is at war with the DP and his allies in Baringo politics. Ruto is grooming Sammy Mwaita to take on the young Moi as senator come 2017. Ruto and Gideon are also said to be battling over the control of multi-billion geothermal projects in Baringo and Kerio Valley.
Raila has given the impression that he is genuinely reorganizing his Orange Democratic Movement party for a new generation of leaders.
The next presidential race is for Raila to lose as an individual or is out of the race and backs another face.   
For now, Raila is out to unite the opposition using tools handed to him by Jubilee in the name of blunders created by Uhuru among them the anti-terror laws, election pledges that have not been honoured - the lap top school project, domination of Kalenjins and Kikuyus - KK in plum government slots while isolating others and failure to fight corruption. Uhuru’s foreign policy of looking at the East rather than the West has been at the centre of diplomatic discussions.