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Kenya

A presidential spoiler throws hat in the ring

Top UN official's bid for the presidency in 2022 complications for the other contenders

Political alliances have been shaken up again after the former trade minister in President Mwai Kibaki's government, Mukhisa Kituyi, resigned as Secretary General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development to run for the presidency in 2022 (AC Vol 48 No 7, No-party politics rule).

Few think Kituyi will win but he throws the plans of others into disarray. Without a party – Kituyi was a member of the opposition Ford-Kenya before taking the UNCTAD job in 2013 – his presidency bid is very long shot. But it could disrupt the web of ethnic-based factions that will go a long way to decide the election.

Kituyi's move could change the plans of fellow Luhya Musalia Mudavadi who leads the Amani National Congress (ANC). It might persuade Mudavadi and Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetang'ula to back Kituyi. Mudavadi and Wetang'ula both want to put up a single candidate from western Kenya.

A respected technocrat, Kituyi would be a viable candidate if Raila Odinga chooses not to stand. That would allow Kituyi to emerge as a compromise candidate acceptable to President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Mount Kenya allies to keep out Deputy President William Ruto. 

Meanwhile, Ruto, having survived a botched attempt by his opponents to impeach him, is building alliances outside the Jubilee party from which he has become estranged over the last twelve months. 

Last week, President Kenyatta again dared Ruto to quit the government, accusing him of undermining it. A few days earlier, Kenyatta said he would not hand over power to 'a thief', a scarcely veiled swipe at his Deputy.

Ruto sees the abandoning of the impeachment motion against him as evidence of his strong support and disaffection towards President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga.

Jubilee party chief Raphael Tuju and Orange Democratic Movement counterpart Edwin Sifuna killed off the impeachment motion tabled by Mudavadi's ANC after they realised that it would not win the two-thirds majority needed. 

Ruto is persona non grata at State House but retains plenty of support in the National Assembly and beyond (AC Vol 62 No 1, Handshake to face poll test).



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