What next for Uhuru, Ruto after CJ Maraga's shocker?

President Kenyatta (left) and DP Ruto.

Photo credit: File | DPPS

What you need to know:

  • They argue with the dissolution hanging on the heads of MPs, the President can now soften resistance in his high stakes agenda like the Building Bridges Initiative bills.
  • Should he take the extreme option and precipitate a mini General Election, it would present the ultimate showdown with his deputy William Ruto.
  • The premature elections, however, would be a risky gamble as it could backfire and push the President to the lame duck phase.

Politicians and analysts say the advisory to dissolve Parliament will influence the planned constitutional reforms and the 2022 succession politics irrespective of the decision President Uhuru Kenyatta takes.

Most believe Mr Kenyatta will not dissolve Parliament for failing to enact the two-thirds gender rule as advised by Chief Justice David Maraga. 

They argue with the dissolution hanging on the heads of MPs, the President can now soften resistance in his high stakes agenda like the Building Bridges Initiative bills.

Should he take the extreme option and precipitate a mini General Election, it would present the ultimate showdown with his deputy William Ruto as most of the latter’s allies would probably run on a new party.

Risky gamble

The premature elections, however, would be a risky gamble as it could backfire and push the President to the lame duck phase.

Were Mr Kenyatta to orchestrate the defeat of rebel Jubilee lawmakers, particularly from his Mt Kenya backyard, he would stamp his authority and leave Dr Ruto mortally wounded politically.

But if the rebels were to win in elections against State machinery, the President’s authority would be undermined.

It is not just President Kenyatta who would use the elections to settle political scores.

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga would also take on rebels in his party. Kanu’s Gideon Moi would have a chance to test his influence in the Rift Valley.

“Parliament will not be dissolved. (Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael) Tuju and (Jubilee Vice-Chairman David) Murathe are not ready to receive hundreds of divorce papers,” Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said Tuesday, referring to the resignations that would be served on the two.

Powerful weapon

Political analyst Herman Manyora says the President has been handed a powerful weapon against lawmakers.

“Nobody wants to go through an election, not even the Tangatanga MPs. This gives President Kenyatta more political power over MPs as he is literally holding a sword over their heads,” Mr Manyora said, referring to Jubilee lawmakers allied to Dr Ruto.

Mr Javan Bigambo, another pundit, said it would be unwise for Mr Kenyatta to dissolve Parliament though he added that the Head of State has been thrown into the deep sea by Mr Maraga.

Mr Bigambo said given that there is no timeline within which the President can act on the advice, he will be happy to ride on the uncertainty to secure concessions from lawmakers.

But the inaction could come at a cost, he added.

“If the President does not act on the advice, he would be seen to have violated a Constitution he swore to protect. This can be a ground for impeachment,” Mr Bigambo said.

Dissolving Parliament would set the stage for a purge and the President to have a big say on his succession.

Mass defections

This could lead to mass defections and make Dr Ruto to prematurely announce his ticket for the 2022 bid.

A Rift Valley MP said that would complicate the Tangatanga 2022 arithmetic since the government “would want to deploy State machinery to ensure the DP’s lieutenants are defeated in the mini polls”.

“Known for what it is, Jubilee could decide to let Kanu to field candidates in the Rift Valley, thus locking out Dr Ruto’s allies. This may force him to lead us out of Jubilee to a new outfit and ultimately his resignation as deputy president,” the MP, who did not want to be named, said.

Mr Manyora, however, said the advice may be a blessing in disguise for the President.

“It could present him with an opportunity to deal with disloyal MPs since it will be the State running the elections and not the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission,” he said.

Mr Anderson Ojwang, another analyst, said Mr Odinga could seize the opportunity to deal with ODM rebels in the Coast, Western and Nyanza regions.

“He may end up assembling new troops and marching to the presidential contest more emboldened,” he said.

Test Ruto’s strength

For Mr Moi, it would give him the first chance to test Dr Ruto’s strength in Rift valley.

“It would be a moment for the Baringo senator to assess his grip on the Rift valley and what he needs to do to be a formidable candidate,” he added.

Mr Murkomen said the development presents an opportunity to separate parliamentary and other elections, saying the new MPs should serve for five years.

“We should then only have presidential, governor and ward representative elections in 2022,” he said.

Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi said dissolving Parliament would not be an end in itself, adding that the country risk being in a free fall state.

“The President should acknowledge the merit of the CJ advice and seek broader consultation to find a workable solution. With no immediate timeline for the President to dissolve Parliament, it should accord him time, prudence and in the interest of public good; to allow for serious institutional consultations to avoid crashing the country,” Mr Mudavadi said in a statement yesterday.


jjochieng@ke.nationmedia.com, smundu@ke.nationmedia.com