Worried Kibaki: Key president men’s poll fear

Contrary to widespread perception that President Mwai Kibaki is all set to defend his seat, emerging facts indicate that the man once described as the gentleman of Kenya's turbulent politic is no longer that keen on defending his position despite oozing confidence a month ago.

According to a close ally of the president who confided to a friend, those around the president are having to push a 'reluctant' Kibaki to defend his seat. A clearly dispirited president is said to be greatly disenchanted by the latest development in Narc-K which is now bedeviled by in-fighting between aspirants eyeing national seats in the party.

There has even been talk amongst some people in the corridors of power suggesting that the president might decide to remain in DP which he sees as more united, solid and peaceful house when compared to the chaotic party that has become Narc-K. With a fallout in Narc-K now imminent, the president's advisers have reportedly told him to assume a wait and see approach to gauge which way the wind blows and then make a decision informed by the strength he would have in either party.

Their fear is that should the president declare that he is in Narc-k and then the party goes on to disintegrate as they now fear, then the president could find himself 'frying in his own fat' as the popular saying goes constantly echoed by Moi, Kibaki's predecessor.

Ironically, it is the assumption by those fighting for seats in Narc-K that the president is going to finally settle in Narc-K that is intensifying the enmity between them as they set their eyes on the huge campaign money that they believe will be poured once the money taps are unscrewed later this year.

More ironical, it is this same reason that is now making the president want to disassociate himself from Narc-K as he reportedly fears that it might come out of the much awaited talks much worse for the wear and at the end of it there might only be smithereens to hold unto.

That there is trouble in the president's widely preferred unofficial party is no longer a secret. Only last week, its forthcoming elections were postponed for what the party functionaries said was to give its members time to strengthen its structures ostensibly so that it comes out of the polls more united. Those in the know however say that the real reason the party pushed its polls is because of a fear that it is not yet ready to swallow the bitter pill of democracy as things stand now.

To postpone the party elections however is seen as simply a postponement of a problem according to another wing in Narc-K that argues that it is better to swallow the pill now than wait any longer. Those of this school of thought say that if there is any fallout now, it will give the party time to heal and thus prepare for the national polls on a surer footing rather than wait until later when any fall-out might not give it time to recover in time for the general elections.

Another factor said to be working against Narc-K much to the discomfort of the president is the chilly relationship between aspirants and MPs who are now in a state of virtual war with the aspirants accusing the MPs of seeking to monopolize the party with a view of capitalizing on their status.

Only last week, there was chaos in Kipipiri when a meeting called by the area MP Amos Kimunya to select party poll coordinators sawa a walk out led by aspirant Mwangi Githiomi who is a former MP. Githiomi accused Kimunya of hand-picking his henchmen to manage Narc-K affairs in the constituency and vowed never to play ball.

On the other hand, Kimunya accused Githiomi of bringing his supporters to fill up the posts. Given that such accusations and counter accusations are the order of the day in all constituencies across the country, there is now real fear that Narc-K will split down the middle.

As if this was not enough, the race for the party national posts have also seen friends turn foes as they realize that they are eyeing the same offices. First to cry foul was assistant minister Danson Mungatana who publicly accused his coast province counterpart Chirau Ali Mwakwere of betraying him and going for the seat of secretary general. According to Mungatana, Mwakwere had assured him of his support for the seat but was shocked the next day to hear Mwakwere declare that he would also vie for the seat.

But the post that has sent the most sparks is that of party chairman that has seen two cabinet ministers say unsavoury things about each other with trade minister Mukhisa Kituyi dismissing his cabinet colleague Prof. George Saitoti of being unfit to become leader of the party purportedly because he has too much baggage hanging from his neck. On his part Saitoti said he would not be deterred from his quest to head the party.

What is worrying the president most however is the fact that a reconciliation team has reportedly failed to bring peace in Narc-K. The team is said to be working on lines similar to those now being used by ODM in its bid to bring together its leading luminaries.

Because going for Narc-K top seats through the ballot is proving to be too divisive, another school of thought in the party has it, they could try the consensus way. But with the seeming mindsets in Narc-k, it is yet to be seen how successful they will be towards that end.

The fact that Kibaki is in a tight political corner is demonstrated by the fact that he has now sent emissaries to bring back on board minister Musikari Kombo and an influential woman minister from Ukambani. The meeting has been called by Alex Mureithi and Noah Wekesa in Naro Moru and will be attended by representatives of political parties in the government of national unity.

It is understood that the meeting is aimed at wooing the two ministers back to the fold and part of the deal will be promising the two plum posts in the next government. After the Naro Moru meeting, another one is planned for Mombasa which will bring together all parties interested in joining the government.

What prompted Kibaki to reach out to Kombo and the lady minister, those in the know say, is developments in ODM.

The seeming thawing relations between ODM foes Kalonzo Musyoka and Raila Odinga, it is said, are lately giving the increasingly alarmed president sleepless nights. Only a few weeks ago, the president had been made to believe that ODM luminaries would not be on talking terms by this February.

However, with the latest developments in ODM showing the unity is likely to hold for quite a while has already sent cold shivers down the spine of Narc-K strategists who had counted on a fallout between ODM leading lights to hand them advantage. Raila was recently quoted bragging that those waiting for ODM to break "will have to wait till Jesus returns."

But now with Kalonzo and Raila vowing to work together and sending mixed signals on the issue of coming up with one candidate to face Kibaki, there is growing anxiety in Narc-K that ODM might after all present one candidate to face the president, something that leaves many in Narc-K scared stiff.

As if this was not enough, there is now another war front opening in Kibaki's core support block in Rift Valley where assistant minister Koigi Wamwere and his Molo constituency counterpart Macharia Mukiri threatened to campaign against the government for what they said is the government's indifference towards people of Central province ancestry in Rift Valley.

The two MPs' concerns however are said to be out of the fear that there are aspirants in their constituencies with the backing of state house out to spoil the show for them.

Kibaki, it appears may have to wait for a while in characteristic fence-sitting before deciding on his party of choice as developments continues to hold until polling day then matters are bound to get very tight indeed. There are those who argue that if ODM finally manages to front one candidate, chances are that Kibaki and his inner core may as well begin packing to leave state house considering what happened in the November 2005 referendum.

It will be the first time a Kenyan president serves for one term, unprecedented indeed, considering Moi, the immediate predecessor served a whooping 24 years. The founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta died in office August 1978 having served un-interrupted for 15 years since independence in 1963.

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