Moi’s political dilemma

Retired president, Daniel Moi is in a tight spot over supporting president Kibaki’s re-election bid, revival of ;project Uhuru’ and helping tame ODM in Rift Valley and beyond. As the clock ticks towards the elections, he ponders:

- How to help Uhuru maintain political relevance in 2012 without upsetting Kibaki’s second term bid

- Best means of paying Raila and his ODM group back in kind

Though quiet for some time now, retired president Moi is a man in dilemma, information availed to The Leader indicates.

He is torn between support for Kibaki’s bid for a second term in office or working for revival of his pet project; Uhuru Kenyatta presidency in 2012.

We have reliably learnt that the retired president was behind decision by Uhuru Kenyatta to call for a Kanu national Delegates Council meeting set for June 11 to deliberate “on the way forward” for the country’s oldest political party.

Sources disclose the ‘way forward’ for the scheduled Kanu NDC will be to ‘demand’ that Kanu de-link itself from the orange Democratic Movement (ODM), and that Uhuru have another go at the presidency on a Kanu ticket.

Former president Moi’s disdain for ODM runs deep. Moi is still smarting from the humiliating defeat his presidential candidate, Uhuru, suffered as a result of the last minute walkout by politicians who are today the leading lights in ODM; Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka.

Back to the forthcoming Kanu NDC, the carefully planned agenda for the NDC is a clear manifestation of the age-old political tactics perfected by Kanu in the years gone by where the then ruling party used to stage-mange the outcome of meetings of its critical organs.

The June 11 meeting, we are informed has full blessing, including facilitation, by the former president. It comes only four days before expiry of the June 15 deadline for ODM presidential hopefuls to return their application forms for the party nomination.

Ostensibly, the nomination deadline was extended for the third time after Uhuru failed to return his nomination documents.

The Uhuru camp was quick to explain that the delay was ‘forced’ on their candidate by the ongoing court-case in which a faction led by Keiyo South MP, Nicholas Biwott, wants to seize the party leadership.

The argument is, had Uhuru handed over the presidential nomination papers to ODM, Biwott would have used this as evidence that the party chairman had deserted the former ruling party and therefore the court had no choice but to declare him (Biwott) as the bona fide party boss.

Initially, Moi had thrown his weight behind the Biwott group but insiders say the equation may change dramatically once Uhuru formally severs his relationship with ODM. Biwott argues that Uhuru has no business in Kanu after his ‘defection’ to ODM.

But the Uhuru side has often countered that they have not quit Kanu but only joined ODM as a corporate member and in line with the party’s policy that allows for coalition with ‘like-minded’ parties.

Sources say Moi has already convinced the Biwott led faction to declare a ‘ceasefire’ once Uhuru is brought to ‘toe the line.’

But even as Moi works on a fresh deal with Uhuru, he has all but declared that he would not mind president Kibaki’s second term in office. Indeed, we have reliably learnt that the retired president was keen on accompanying Kibaki during his recent tour of Rift Valley province but the former president’s advisers thought it is still too early for him to display all his political cards.

However, during the whirlwind tour, president Kibaki let it out that he was quite in good terms with his predecessor who he took every turn to praise or even flatter; a very uncharacteristic thing of Kibaki.

At one point during the tour, Kibaki declared that his administration would not only retain Moi’s name on everything named after the former president, but would even look for more things to name after him in ‘honour of the many good things he did for this country.’

Back to the revival of ‘Project Uhuru’, we have learnt that the key mover of the idea is Moi’s son and Baringo Central MP, Gideon. Like his father, Gideon has no much love lost between him and ODM. He still hinges his political prospects on a strong Kanu and on an Uhuru presidency, if and when it comes.

But unlike his father, the younger Moi has no time for president Kibaki. In fact in the early days of Narc administration, Gideon made statements that bordered on contempt, if not insult, to the presidency, a point that he had to be cautioned against it by the senior Moi.

Sources say the retired president was specifically alarmed by a remark Gideon made in Mochongoi area of his constituency in September 2003 as president Kibaki was attending a regional meeting in Mozambique.

In a confrontation with the police, Gideon was caught on camera contemptuously asking the police who had sent them to stop his meeting ‘since the higher authorities who could only do so were in Maputo!’

The senior Moi, say sources, was so infuriated by the remark that he immediately summoned his son to lecture him on the need to respect the presidency. A source at the meeting remembers Moi cautioning the youthful MP, that. ‘even the weakest of the presidencies was still stronger than the strongest single individual and had to be treated with great caution.’

The Baringo central MP may have tamed his tongue, but there is no evidence that his attitude about the current state house changed much.

Besides Gideon, Moi’s other children are gunning to vie in this year’s election and, like their father, strongly believe Kanu-and not- ODM is their political vehicle of choice.

Moi’s eldest son, Jonathan, is eyeing the Eldama Ravine seat currently occupied by Musa Sirma, a staunch ODM supporter. Reliable sources say the retired president has lined candidates to face every ODM-leaning MP in the Rift Valley. And while he threw his weight behind Sirma who stood on a Kanu ticket in 2002 election, this time round he is fully behind his son just to spite ODM.

Other of Moi children expected in this year’s election are his second born son, Raymond, who has publicly declared interest in Rongai seat and youngest son, Philip, who has not declared but is widely believed to be eyeing Kuresoi seat in Nakuru District.

Sources say the retired president renewed interest in Uhuru presidency is more targeted at ensuring Kanu remains relevant and that Uhuru regains his political luster so as to be the man to beat come 2012 election.

However, the Moi family, just like Uhuru himself, knows that for him to factor in 2012 election, he must also be a presidential candidate in this year’s election as well, though not necessarily to win but to maintain a high level political presence.

And that is precisely the catch 22 situation for the senior Moi who is keen on keeping his friendship with Kibaki state house but at the same preserve Kanu and ‘project Uhuru’.

But the dilemma is even worse for Uhuru. Should he defy his mentor and stick with ODM, there are high chances that he will lose Kanu on a legal technicality. Yet on the other hand, chances are very remote that he would be the ODM flag bearer.

He has to contend with burning ambition of two leading ODM luminaries, Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka, who have so far demonstrated no intention to cede ground for anyone; least of all the man who made them ditch Kanu in 2002.

Yet, unless Uhuru is the ODM presidential candidate, he risks losing even his Gatundu South parliamentary seat unless he finds a formula of backing Kibaki presidential bid in the style of Mathioya Mp, Joseph Kamotho.

And yet, there is still mot much chance for Uhuru presidency on a Kanu ticket even with full backing of Moi and his famed political machinery.

In such eventuality, Uhuru may only count on Rift valley votes, and which are still not guaranteed given ODM’s and Kibaki’s expected high voltage forays in the province.

But perhaps that suits Moi’s grand plan just fine; that Kanu and Uhuru Project remain intact but without significant harm to the Kibaki administration.

Whether the plan survives to make an impact come 2012 id a different matter altogether given that politics is a very dynamic affair, and that predicting how the political landscape will look five years down the line is really a chase after a mirage. As they say, a day in politics can be a lifetime.

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