Reports suggested that 2022 succession politics featured in mid-morning talks at the opposition leader’s city home.
ODM leader Raila Odinga yesterday hosted Kanu chairman Gideon Moi and the President’s brother, Mr Muhoho Kenyatta, for talks that raised the stakes in the 2022 alliance-building efforts that have recently been characterised by unlikely softening of positions.
Following the meeting, Mr Moi’s camp declared that it demonstrated Mr Odinga’s centrality to President Kenyatta’s succession plans and was a signal to the rival faction led by Deputy President William Ruto that Mr Odinga’s position is secure.
The talks at Mr Odinga’s Karen home came on the back of last week’s meeting between the DP and ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya, which fuelled speculation of a Raila-Ruto alliance reportedly informed by ODM’s discontent about moves by some of the President’s allies to side-line the former premier.
Significantly, yesterday’s development also came just a day after Mr Odinga’s confidantes, Suna East MP Junet Mohamed and ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna ruled out any possibility of him working with the DP.
A similar dismissal emerged from the DP’s camp, with analysts suggesting that the optics of the meeting was calculated to reinforce the strength of Mr Odinga’s “Handshake” pact with the president.
However, it also sustained the unlikely political union narrative considering Mr Moi is part of the One Kenya Alliance that brings together Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper Democratic Movement’s Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula of Ford Kenya.
Mr Odinga’s allies claims the One Kenya Alliance is being used to undermine him.
Reports suggested that 2022 succession politics featured in the mid-morning meeting at Mr Odinga’s Karen home, which excited allies told Nation discussed the possibility of three of Kenya’s most prominent political families going into next year’s elections as a team.
It was also interpreted as an assurance that the President’s camp is keen to ensure stability of the ‘Handshake’ and downplay suggestions of a rift within its ranks because of the apparent conflict between Mr Odinga’s ODM and the One Kenya Alliance, which is said to enjoy the support of the Kenyatta family.
The DP’s rivals have often spoken about a super alliance, which had appeared to take shape when President Kenyatta brought together various party leaders backing the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), but whose march seemed to have been derailed lately due to the showdown between ODM and the One Kenya Alliance.
Although Mr Moi yesterday stated that the meeting was to wish Mr Odinga a quick recovery (he was recently ill with Covid 19), political analysts and those privy to the goings-on said it had political connotations.
Tiaty MP William Kamket, a strong backer of Mr Moi, said the meeting was a continued confirmation of Mr Odinga’s place as an integral player in the 2022 succession, and why Kanu wants him by their side.
“We don’t want Mzee (Raila) to retire in opposition after all these years. Mzee must retire in government, either as President, Deputy President, Prime Minister or as a statesman,” Mr Kamket told Nation.
Referring to Mr Odinga as the “chief chef” of the BBI, Mr Kamket noted that the proposed expansion of the executive to include a President, deputy President, prime minister and the two deputy premiers will ensure that leaders who support the ‘Handshake’ secure the seats.
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, a key Kenyatta ally, said the Odinga-Moi-Muhoho meeting was just one of many Kenyans should expect as the 2022 realignments unfold.
“It’s possible that One Kenya Alliance has realised that they cannot go it alone. It’s a fact that Raila can’t be ignored. He commands a following that anyone desiring to be President must seriously consider,” Ms Waiguru said.
Murang’a senator Irungu Kang’ata, a Ruto ally, yesterday insisted that the meeting does not help the cause of negating the “hustlers versus dynasties” narrative: “It affirms that Moi is the preferred choice of the ‘system’. Moi going to talk with Tinga, instead of Kalonzo or Wetang’ula, affirms he’s the chosen one. He’s being made to rank “pari passu” (on an equal footing) with Tinga, but we all know he can’t defeat Ruto.”
“All meetings and accompanying optics are structured to influence and move perceptions just like the Boston tea party,” said political analyst Mr Dismas Mokua.
“It portrays well when senior leaders meet irrespective of their political ideological orientation or interests,” said ODM National Treasurer Timothy Bosire.
Another MP suggested: “As per the constitution, Uhuru cannot run again, but the Kenyatta name must remain relevant. So Muhoho may even end up becoming the prime minister. Who knows? The voters will decide.”