High stakes for son of former president

January 23, 2012 5:27 am


Kenyatta seen arriving at the Hague with his wife (centre) in September 2011/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 23 – A son of Kenya’s founding father Jomo Kenyatta, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, 50, is currently the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance.

In the run up to the confirmation of charges hearings last year, Kenyatta had gone public saying he was not afraid of the international judicial process as he was innocent.

“I don’t fear The Hague,” he would say.

He also surprised many observers when he opted to present himself as a witness in his own defence. He was cross examined by Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo in a session that was watched by millions.

The politician who is regarded as the Central Kenya heir to President Mwai Kibaki’s political legacy is however under great pressure to give up his dreams of fitting in the shoes of his father who ruled Kenya after independence.

The Gatundu South MP has however vowed to remain in the race for the presidency irrespective of the ruling by the Pre-Trial chamber.

A political science graduate and prominent businessman, Kenyatta came into the political limelight in 2001 when he was nominated to Parliament and appointed the Local Government Minister in Daniel arap Moi’s administration.

To many, this looked like a well-calculated move because months later he was made chairman of the Kenya African National Union, KANU, and despite his inexperience in politics, Kenyatta was on the road campaigning for the top job with the full blessings of Moi in what was widely termed as ‘Project Uhuru’.

The man, whom many believe was pushed to run for the top post or even join politics, lost the presidential bid to the incumbent Mwai Kibaki and became the Leader of the Official Opposition in the 9th Parliament.

Kenyatta was among those who vigorously campaigned against the draft Constitution during the 2005 referendum. The ‘No’ camp carried the day, against proponents of the draft who were led by President Kibaki.

The constitutional referendum split the country with Kenyatta remaining in the ‘No’ or the ‘Orange’ camp. However in the run-up to 2007 General Elections, he backed Kibaki’s bid for a second term.

Unfortunately, the 2007 elections were bungled leading to violence that left more than 1,300 people dead and the eviction of the Kikuyu community which the Gatundu South Member of Parliament comes from.

According to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Kenyatta was central to the planning of violence by Mungiki followers against supporters of the Orange Democratic Movement.

In October 2011, while on an official trip to Washington, Kenyatta gave an interview to international media where he downplayed the threat that an arrest warrant posed danger to him and his political career.

He added that the truth would finally come out when due process was followed and he seemed optimistic that he would be cleared of any wrongdoing.

However, this has not stopped MPs allied to him from making sideshows about the ICC process with some even threatening to have Kenya withdraw from the Rome Statute.

His political future and his presidential bid for the next General Election could be dented (or propelled) should the Pre-Trial Chamber confirm charges against him.

Kenyatta has vowed to remain in the presidential race irrespective of the ruling.

But that is if he will survive pressure from civil society groups that have insisted that constitutionally, he is ineligible to become president if he faces charges at the ICC.

Political analysts have said that Kenyatta may also opt to back a candidate who will protect his interests.

Recent opinion polls have placed Kenyatta as the second most popular candidate for the presidency after Odinga.



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