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Kenya

Uhuru wants his Jubilee

A Presidential prerogative appears to have granted Deputy President William Ruto another stay of execution

Plans to expel Deputy President William Ruto from the ruling Jubilee party have clashed with the presidential calendar. Uhuru Kenyatta's eighth and last State of the Nation address has been scheduled for 30 November, which conflicts with plans by Jubilee officials to hold the party's long-delayed National Delegates Conference.

This is the meeting at which top Jubilee officials had planned to expel Ruto and his supporters grouped in the rival United Democratic Alliance.

After this the Jubilee officials want to formalise a merger with Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ahead of next August's elections (AC Vol 62 No 23, Cash takes on the kingpins).

We hear that the President's circle was concerned that Ruto and his allies might disrupt proceedings in the National Assembly as a protest against their expulsion from Jubilee. To preclude that, the Jubilee officials have delayed the delegates' conference but no new date has been set.

That creates a headache for Odinga, whose candidacy has been tacitly endorsed by Kenyatta, but who needs the boost that a merger between his ODM party and Jubilee would create.

'The NDC has nothing to do with what we are going to do on the 9th of December when I will formally announce my candidature,' said Odinga. However, his presidential chances will rely heavily on a successful Jubilee/ODM merger. Further delays to the merger will help Ruto's campaign.

Both Ruto and Odinga have stepped up their campaigning schedule in recent weeks. Odinga has been wooing county governors in Central Province with some success, winning over Nyandarua's Francis Kimemia, Meru's Kiraitu Murungi and Kiambu's James Nyoro.

Ruto has a trickier task. He wants to position himself as the natural heir to Kenyatta and the candidate who will push through Kenyatta's 'Big Four' programme. That wouldn't be helped if he breaks very acrimoniously with Kenyatta and Jubilee.

Instead, Ruto is telling voters that Kenyatta has been distracted from the grand ambitions of the 'Big Four' because of his 'handshake' deal with Odinga. And that deal, argues Ruto, is simply a marriage of political clans for which ordinary Kenyans will foot the bill.



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