By Hon. Joshua Kutuny
The unannounced and unexpected meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga last Friday may have come as a surprise to many Kenyans both in and outside power but this does not mean that it was not in the works.
The big question in the minds of many political observers is what prompted Mr Kenyatta to go behind the scenes to net his erstwhile political rival and National Super Alliance (NASA) principal.
That Mr Kenyatta kept his trusted lieutenant and Deputy President William Ruto and Mr Odinga’s three other co-principals Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetangula in the dark in the Harambee House talks speaks volumes.
It is understood that Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga held private talks that was only attended by Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua.
Immediately after the declaration of a new political beginning at the steps of Harambee House, Mr Kenyatta effectively created a new center of power. It remains to be seen how the new Uhuru/Raila axis will gel with DP Ruto on the wings.
Mr Kenyatta announced the formation of a team to be co-chaired by Mr Odinga’s lawyer Paul Mwangi and Ambassador Martin Kimani to oversee a programme that aims to address issues of ethnic antagonism and competition, lack of national ethos, inclusivity, devolution, divisive elections, safety and security, corruption, shared prosperity and responsibilities and rights.
They established an office that will retain a retinue of advisors to assist them in the implementation of the set goals.
The new political development is coming at a time when the populous vote rich Rift Valley is politcally divided between the DP Ruto and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi who have both declared their interest to succeed President Kenyatta in 2022.
The loss of Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter and his Marakwet West counterpart Kangogo Bowen following the nullification of their election victories has created a political dissent among rift valley voters.
Mr Kenyatta’s latest political gymnastics shows that he is rising politically when Mr Ruto appears to be at his weakest point in politics.
The surprise announcement of a new Uhuru-Raila cooperation in politics is not new given that Mr Odinga did a similar move towards the end of President Daniel Arap Moi 24 year hold on power.
Mr Odinga dissolved his then National Development Party (NDP) and joined President Moi’s Kanu party which he went on to dislodge from power after senior Moi hand-picked Uhuru Kenyatta as his preferred heir.
Mr Odinga bolted out of Kanu in 2002 together with former cabinet ministers Professor George Saitoti, Joseph Kamotho and Kalonzo Musyoka among other politicians.
The politicians led by Mr Odinga teamed up with Mwai Kibaki, Kijana Wamalwa and Charity Ngilu to form the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) that went ahead to take power from Mr Moi.
Mr Kibaki defeated Mr Kenyatta in the 2002 General Election but handed over power to Uhuru in 2013 after a ten year rule.
The coming together of the political nemesis perhaps provides the Kikuyu nation with an option for Kenyatta’s 2022 succession plan. Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto have an unwritten succession agreement.
Uhuru’s surprise turnaround to work with Mr Odinga has given Kenyans and particularly the Kikuyu nation a Raila succession option.
This rare agreement could as well pass a coded language to the Kikuyu nation that Mr Kenyatta knows exactly what he is doing and that he has plans for his succession come 2022.
Mr Kenyatta could be telling his near fanatical supporters in Central Kenya that what they think they know in his political succession plan is exactly the opposite and that they don’t know.
This pact may have handed the Kikuyu nation and particularly Mr Kenyatta a comfort zone to deliver his pre-election pledges as well as consolidate his legacy.
President Kenyatta has succeeded in stabilising his government with the coming in of Mr Odinga, the biggest threat to his political career.
The entry of Mr Odinga and his political backing into government affairs will effectively erode the value that the Kalenjin nation, through Mr Ruto brought to Mr Kenyatta’s administration.
The fear, if any that Mr Kenyatta had in the event that Ruto threatens to withdraw his support from government has been removed and replaced by Mr Odinga’s political numbers.
It remains to be seen where Mr Ruto’s political equation lies in the new found Kenyatta-Odinga political pact.
The writer is the MP for Cherangany Constituency.