23 June 2019

Kenya: Despite Denials, ODM's Preference for Kenyatta Successor is Well Known

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) denied two of its leading lights asked President Kenyatta last weekend to name party leader Raila Odinga his successor. Don't you believe it.

ODM is desperate for Mr Kenyatta to formally endorse Mr Odinga for the presidency. Unsurprisingly, at the burial of Dorka Nyong'o, the mother of Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o, this matter was uppermost in the minds, and foremost on the lips, of party leaders.

POWER

That is as it should be. When looking for power, one may have more than one strategy for getting it. One can use a sweetener or frightener; send emissaries or present oneself; create Project Fear or deploy peaceful approaches; grovel or coerce.

That is how it is done and how ODM plays it. So party chairman John Mbadi asked the President to bequeath Kenyans a person who would continue, and not reverse, his war against corruption and the gains thus far made.

That is about Kenya post-Kenyatta II or the Kenyatta II succession. Who did Mr Mbadi have in mind as a worthy successor of President Kenyatta? Shokolokobangosha? No, Mr Odinga.

Siaya SenatorJames Orengo, who doubles as Senate Minority Leader and ODM lawyer, asked the President working "together with Mr Odinga" to give Kenya a "new dispensation and referendum".

REFERENDUM

Whose dispensation? Shokolokobangosha's? No. Mr Orengo's oft-repeated call is that Mr Odinga deserves to be the next president of Kenya.

Why does ODM want a referendum? In order to change the Constitution to provide for the office of the premier in an expanded Executive.

Why? They say to put to an end post-election bitterness by accommodating poll losers in an expanded Executive? That's transparent fiction.

If the problem is the electoral system, fix the system and not its results. If first-past-the post format is the cause of Kenya's electoral woes, it should switch to proportional representation.

But Mr Orengo was canvassing presidential support for a referendum which ODM somehow believes will usher in parliamentary-style democracy.

Now strategies for seeking power change to suit the seeker's oft opportunistic circumstances. Mr Odinga supported a parliamentary system at the Bomas constitution making process of 2004/2005.

DEMOCRACY

He ditched it for the presidential style in 2010. Now he has switched back to parliamentary democracy.

Mr Odinga courted and joined President Moi's Kanu. But when the latter preferred Mr Kenyatta to succeed him in 2002, he swiftly decamped. However, rather than fight Mr Kibaki and plunge Kenya into civil war in 2008, he pulled back from the brink and joined him in an unstable coalition government.

In a new race for power Mr Odinga, without batting an eyelid, dumped his colleagues in National Super Alliance and dived into the duvet with President Kenyatta last year. Therefore asking the President to support him to succeed him is a matter of course.

One, the President may just be the man who at long last persuades Central and Mt Kenya voters to send Mr Odinga to State House in 2022.

Two, presidential support will send unmistakable signals about, and to, Deputy President William Ruto. A presidential rejection tag may take away voters from the wearer of it.

And so who did Mr Mbadi have in mind in Seme when he talked about a successor?

MONEY LAUNDERING

Whose money did Mr Odinga have in mind when he accused the church of laundering ill-gotten wealth? But it is a racing certainty that ODM chairman and leader were taking aim at the DP. They believe the DP has fallen out with his boss and aligning with the President could consign Dr Ruto to political oblivion.

Last, if not now for Mr Odinga, when? He ran unsuccessfully for president in 1997, 2007, 2013 and 2017. He is 74 and would not want to, like his father Jaramogi, exit the stage as a hero who reigned but never ruled.

It is why a funeral was ruthlessly turned into a campaign to force the President's hand in the succession stakes. It is why ODM lawmakers have made attacking the DP their raison d'être.

Come on. Of course not. ODM is not campaigning. That's for 2022.

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