As the next elections approach, two things appear clear – President Uhuru Kenyatta will most likely be re-elected and there is a growing succession battle in his Mt Kenya backyard. It looks clear that Kenyans see Jubilee as the better option and will give Uhuru a second term in next year’s elections.
With the likelihood of the President getting re-elected, politicians in the Mt Kenya region are angling to take up the role of the next regional leader. This is in line with the Jubilee plan of holding on to power for 20 years with the first five ending once Uhuru is re-elected.
It is in the interest of the region to ensure that there is a strong personality to take after Uhuru in ensuring that Deputy President William Ruto has a formidable running-mate in the 2022 presidential election.
With how Jubilee has been set up from the onset, it is likely that Ruto will be looking for a running mate from the region. This will also assure him of the region’s support to become President after Uhuru finishes his two terms.
Coming from the Mt Kenya region and having been supported by the Rift Valley from 2013, it is the most likely scenario that Uhuru will rally his supporters behind Ruto.
It is therefore not surprising that there is growing political rivalry between some of the key Mt Kenya leaders for example Meru Governor Peter Munya and Senator Kiraitu Murungi. There has been speculation that Ruto may actually get his 2022 running mate from the Meru region, or the larger Mt Kenya East.
The angling to succeed Uhuru is now becoming more apparent and may call for caution especially with next year’s election just over a year away. It is important that even as Mt Kenya region works on getting a strong leader after Uhuru, that the aspirations and dreams of Jubilee are not lost or torn in the process.
Jubilee cannot afford a fallout before the 2017 election or even after and especially during the 2022 transitional elections where Uhuru will not be a candidate. Jubilee needs that unity that has been seen between Uhuru’s Mt Kenya background and Ruto’s Rift valley stronghold even more ahead of the 2022 elections.
Jubilee politicians must never forget what brought President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto together. Other than the obvious quest for political power, the two were coming together to unite their respective communities and regions to end the long rivalry.
This goal was anchored on the need to ensure that Kenya became united and that all communities lived in cohesion. This was particularly critical given the deaths and displacement that arose from the 2007 elections.
Other than this, the Jubilee leadership laid down development plans for the country riding on the euphoric support from both Mt. Kenya and Rift Valley regions. This development will not be possible with the constant politicking not only in these regions but the entire country.
Jubilee will not be able to reassure its supporters in Mt Kenya for a need for consequent terms in power if the Coalition does not fulfil its development promise. Just like the rest of the country, Mt Kenya regions will be looking for what Jubilee has done to improve their lives.
So even as Mt Kenya residents prepare to support whoever that Deputy President William Ruto will choose as the running mate, they are also looking at people who will focus on their interests and development.
It is therefore important that the leadership of Mt Kenya works beyond getting a formidable regional successor after Uhuru. The quest for political power and alignment must therefore not cloud the dream of developing the region.
The ongoing succession battles and what will come up after the 2017 elections should therefore not halt Jubilee’s efforts to unite the country as well as ensure that there is economic development.
(The writer is a political and communications consultant. Twitter @MachelWaikenda)