The secrets of Kibaki’s bid for a second term

A crucial meeting to lay the groundwork for President Kibaki’s re-election plan takes place at Naro Moru River Lodge in Nanyuki next Wednesday, we can disclose today. Attending the meeting will be representatives of political parties still affiliated to the ruling coalition Narc. The co-conveners of the meeting are cabinet minister Dr. Noah Wekesa and Narc director of elections, Mr. Alex Mureithi.

Mureithi’s prominent role at the meeting is significant in that he is perceived to hold direct brief for his uncle, president Kibaki. Invited to the meeting are five representatives from each of 13 political parties still in the Narc coalition. They include Charity Ngilu’s National Party of Kenya and Musikari Kombo’s Ford Kenya. Both Ngilu and Kombo will be in attendance, our sources have confirmed.

We have gathered that the Naro Moru meeting will be followed by another retreat in Mombasa where other parties interested in coalescing under Narc umbrella, or at least in supporting Kibaki’s candidacy in the presidential poll later in the year, will be invited.

In this category falls Narc-Kenya, which has insisted on fronting Kibaki for presidency, and Simeon Nyachae’s Ford People, which though not explicitly interested in a Narc affiliation, has declared it will support Kibaki’s re-election bid.

Insider information made available to us is that State House strategists have finally agreed that Kibaki seeks re-election on a Narc ticket, but that as many political parties be encouraged to identify with his candidacy even while remaining in their respective political parties.

The plan, disclose insiders, is to have just Kibaki and his running mate as joint Narc candidates but all other candidates, parliamentary and civic, be directly sponsored by their respective political parties.

A source involved in arrangements for the Naro Moru meeting told us that the plan is to revive the spirit of coalition building that gave birth to the original Narc.

Said he: “The last election taught us that coalitions will be the winning formula now and in the foreseeable future. And what a better way to keep the lesson than to make sure the original Narc remains alive?”

The source went on: “We want as many parties to own Kibaki as their candidate but at the same time avoid the acrimonious route of asking anybody to abandon their political parties.”

Sources disclosed to us that initially, it was proposed that Kibaki be the only candidate with direct Narc sponsorship. Ngilu, however, insisted on being Kibaki’s running mate and also coming on board on a direct Narc nomination.

Ngilu, say sources, is positioning herself as Kibaki’s running mate, an idea now gaining currency at state house, a prospect that is seen as being able to neutralize Mr. Kalonzo Musyoka in Ukambani.

Only last week, at least three different political groupings endorsed Kibaki as their presidential candidate even as they expressed contempt for one another.

Mid last week, cabinet minister Joseph Munyao told a press conference that anybody interested to know where Kibaki is politically, can do a search at the office of the registrar-general where records indicate he is still chairman of the Democratic Party (DP).

He insisted that the DP has never been dissolved and that it will be fielding Kibaki as its presidential candidate in this year’s election.

Come the weekend, a Narc-Kenya founder member, assistant minister Mwangi Kiunjuri, told an audience in Namanga in the presence of President Kibaki that the president was firmly in Narc-Kenya.

Said Kiunjuri: “Many have been asking which party ticket President Kibaki will be using to seek re-election. I’ll say it right here and in the presence of the president. It is the political party of (George) Saitoti, (Kiraitu) Murungi and Kiunjuri who are here with the president today!”

Typical of Kibaki, he did not utter a word in affirmation or otherwise, but instead told politicians not to engage in early campaigns as the election “was still very far away in December”.

On the same day, Narc-Kenya claimed “ownership” of Kibaki at Namanga, Simeon Nyachae and a host of Ford People MPs told a crowd in Nyamira that Kibaki was their presidential candidate but declared they would remain in Ford People.

They described Narc, Narc-Kenya and the ODM as “houses of chaos”, claiming that Ford People was the only remaining cohesive political outfit in the country.

The new development comes at a time when Narc-Kenya has boxed itself into a corner, thanks to bitter leadership rivalry.

When Narc Kenya was formed, it attracted immense attention because the people who gravitated towards it were seen as close Kibaki associates and the assumption until now has been that it is the party the president would use to seek re-election.

That was until cabinet minister George Saitoti declared last week that he would be vying for the party’s chairmanship and the party’s internal problems exploded into the open.

Previously, cabinet ministers, Mukhisa Kituyi, the acting chair, as well as Kipruto Kirwa and Kivutha Kibwana, had expressed interest in the same as had Laikipia West MP, G.G. Kariuki.

Where it would have appeared normal electoral victory with the other contenders, the introduction of the Saitoti factor has complicated things, which explains Kituyi’s response to the new development. In what appeared like an extreme over-reaction, Kituyi was quick on the trigger with accusations that Saitoti was a throwback from a discredited era, and was making an attempt at recreating himself through Narc-Kenya.

He rationalized that Narc-Kenya, as a party that represented a new thinking, and a bridge between a new Kenya and the outgoing generation of Mwai Kibaki. Saitoti could never belong.

Kituyi has since admitted there is a major split in the cabinet, pitting his camp against Saitoti’s.

Insiders say Kituyi has the support of the Narc-Kenya wing eager to see the party shed the Mount-Kenya tag and make an ubiquitous presence across the country.

Sharing this view are, among others, the “Young Turks” in the cabinet, Martha Karua, Amos Kimunya, Mutua Katuku and Danson Mungatana.

Saitoti, on the other hand, is seen as the candidate of the ossified conservatives, some say retrogressive forces in the Kibaki government, many of whom were inherited from the Moi era, some going as far back as the Kenyatta era.

In this category is the traditional Gema wing of John Michuki and Njenga Karume. There is also the traditional DP crowd of Kiraitu Murungi and David Mwiraria. Like Saitoti, the latter duo has the dubious distinction of having been mentioned in allegations involving massive corruption.

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