28 January 2012

Kenya: Uhuru Should Quit and Live to Fight Another Day


The impact of the confirmation of the charges by the International Criminal Court against Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto is not rightly being appreciated in some quarters, and deliberately exaggerated in others.

The two presidential candidates are also analysed and appraised on the same criteria as if they are of a similar political standing.

I have some advice for Uhuru Kenyatta on how to navigate the tortuous route his career seems to have taken in the light of the court's judgment.

Uhuru must be commended for resigning as minister for Finance. He should, however, have gone further and resigned as Deputy Prime Minister.

He rightly appreciated the gravity of the matter but seems to have held back instead of going the full length.

Uhuru should realise that in charting his political course in the coming months, there are three important players he must always have in mind. Some are true believers and others opportunists.

First is Uhuru and his immediate family. This must remain the most paramount component of his political calculus.

It is what is in his best political interest and that of his family that should ultimately guide his next step.

The second group is his close advisers and confidants. This category has invested a lot in the Brand Uhuru and will naturally want to see a sound return on their investment.

Their natural but selfish calculation is that Uhuru must run for the presidency.

They have endlessly romanticised and visualised their tenure at various positions in the Uhuru administration.

Uhuru should be wary of this group and realise that his close friends, in advising him, are ultimately pushing their personal agenda and interests.

The third group is Kenyans who are not from Uhuru's ethnic group. This is a very important voting bloc.

In a run-off for the presidential elections, ethnicity as a consideration will greatly diminish.

Apart from the tribesmen of the two candidates in the run-off, the rest of Kenyans will be objective, critical and dispassionate.

It is these Kenyans that will determine the next president. Uhuru should never underestimate the importance and feelings of these Kenyans.

With these diverse groups in mind, my advice to Uhuru is as follows: First, Uhuru should resign as Deputy Prime Minister.

There is really nothing in this office for him. Uhuru is not politically greedy in the African sense.

This office is useless in the bigger scheme of things. Resigning from this office will endear him to more Kenyans and enhance his standing throughout the country.

Second, Uhuru should sit out of the 2012 or 2013 presidential election. This is a painful thing to do, but he must do it.

This he must do for himself, his family and for Kenya.

It is not in doubt that Uhuru, in my view, had an excellent chance to become the next president of Kenya as long as he didn't face the charges by the ICC.

But the decision by the court to confirm the charges was a game changer.

This forced sit out is even more painful when a section of Kenyans believe that the accusations Uhuru faces were as a result of a conspiracy to shut him out of the presidency.

That notwithstanding, he should be a pragmatist and move on. There will be another chance.

Third, Uhuru should minimise or completely end his obsessive political cohabitation with William Ruto.

Uhuru seems to have internalised a political fallacy that Ruto is more of an asset than a liability. For the greater majority of Kenyans, the converse is true.

Uhuru also fails to appreciate the negative feelings Ruto's past and current political philosophy triggers to a cross-section of Kenyans.

Most importantly Uhuru must always remember Ruto's real worth in the 2002 elections when he managed the ill-fated Uhuru campaign for the presidency. Of course, his acts and omissions in the 2007 elections are also critical.

The writer is the publisher, Nairobi Law Monthly

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