Kibaki Succession: Fresh Kikuyu-Luo alliance in the offing

“We want a political deal between the two communities. We feel we have a duty to demonstrate to members of the Kikuyu and Luo communities that with Kibaki and Raila now in coalition government, it does not mean any political enmity again,” Weekly Citizen overheard Njenga Karume , a kitchen cabinet member who still enjoys government security detail tell a friend at his Landmark Hotel, Nairobi recently.

This follows revelation that various political heavyweights in Central province and Luo Nyanza have been working on a behind-the-scenes scheme to build bridges between the two communities.

The recent opening of Equity Bank in Raila Odinga’s home town of Bondo is part of the move to bring together and empower the two communities economically and politically.

It is worth to note, Equity Bank headed by President Kibaki ally James Mwangi was one of those companies ODM had blacklisted during it pre 2007 election campaigns.

Other firms ODM wanted party supporters to boycott their services included Brookhouse Dairies a milk production company associated with the Kenyatta family. Citi Hoppa, a transport company operating in Nairobi and associated with Juja MP George Thuo and media tycoon Samuel Macharia.

Citi Hoppa has John Macharia, the Managing Director of Tripple-A-Capital, a son of Macharia and Francis Michuki, a director of the Windsor Golf and Country club, son of Minister John Michuki on board.

That Raila could officiate the opening of Bondo Equity Bank, a bank that financed Kibaki’s second term presidential campaigns has left many guessing. At the function, Raila told Luos not to keep money in house and instead take loans which they should use in proper investments rather than pay dowry and entertain prostitutes.

At Raila’s homecoming party at Kisumu, Moi Stadium, the crowd could not believe its ears and thought they had not heard right when he said a move to bring other members of the coalition in the region was being initiated. Political analysts say that Raila had in mind inviting president Kibaki and his Party of National Unity to Kisumu.

Reliable sources reveal that the current link man between Kibaki men and Raila is former powerful attorney general Charles Njonjo and Tony Gachoka who made part of the Orange Democratic Movement campaign team in the run-up to last December General election after pulled out of Kamukunji parliamentary ODM primaries.

Only recently, senior Ministry officials at PM’s office located at 14th floor, Treasury Building were shocked to learn of appointments of Gachoka (Senior Assistant Secretary in-charge of Protocol) and a Major (Rtd) Idris (Deputy Secretary) when name plates were fixed on their office doors.

The move to appoint Gachoka as his protocol officer did not only surprise senior ministry officials but also Luo members of Raila kitchen cabinet. Insiders say, Raila was sending a message that with Gachoka a Kikuyu holding a strategic position in his PM office, he was willing and comfortable to work with the community and was not a tribalist.

Our source further went on to explain, the appointment of Joseph Nyagah as co-operative minister met stiff opposition from a number of ODM MPs who thought Mt.Kenya region had got its fair share of slots in the cabinet from Kibaki’s PNU.

The argument was that it was not useful to name Nyagah to cabinet when Kibaki failed to nominate former cabinet Minister Raphael Tuju to parliament despite having stood with the President at the hour of need. Tuju is a Luo.

We have also established that the recent appointment of Tuju as presidential special advisory by Kibaki is part of the deal to show Kibaki can work with the lake region community.

Our investigations reveal, Kibaki and Raila are having a cordial working relationship and that is why no permanent secretary or senior ranking officials from Luo Nyanza were dropped during the formation of the new government.

The only permanent secretary from Luo Nyanza who served in Kibaki government David Nalo was retained and even then director of Medical Services James Nyikal promoted to PS Public Health and Sanitation Ministry to work under Minister Beth Mugo a Kikuyu.

Even Raila’s own brother Oburu Odinga is an Assistant Minister Finance Ministry where a Kikuyu kitchen cabinet member Amos Kimunya is the minister. This signifies that, if his own brother can work with a Kikuyu then other deals can be done with the community.

To go further, Orwa Ojodeh a Luo is an assistant minister Internal Security where Prof. George Saitoti a Kikuyu is the minister.

Another major move made by Raila is the nomination of Rachael Wambui Shebesh. She is a Kikuyu who contested and lost the Kasarani ODM nominations to Elizabeth Ongoro.

Following the pre-election chaos, the Kikuyu political operatives openly state the Luo community was not their worst enemy but the Kalenjin.

Whereas the Luo community took to the streets to demonstrate against the controversial results without killing but only looting and destroying properties, the Kalenjin engaged in murder acts including killings in an Eldoret Church that attracted international news coverage.

To the community, despite the Luo being the most aggrieved, they acted somehow in a democratic manner openly showing it is a civilized community who value human life and shun bloodshed.

It is on these grounds that while addressing a public rally of Internally Displaced Persons at Molo attended by Kibaki, Raila and other high ranking personalities in the coalition government, Agriculture Minister William Ruto was heckled at the function. To the contrary Raila was received warmly.

In fact, the controversy surrounding the amnesty call is being looked at from different angles. Whereas the majority from Nyanza and other regions are facing lesser charges, those from Rift Valley are on counts related to murder, robbery with violence, and possession of firearms. These are capital offences tat lead to life imprisonment or hanging. They also face malicious damage of property.

Only last week, Prof Saitoti ordered the police to act fast on pending cases against perpetrators of post-election violence.

According to Saitoti, the cabinet had resolved that the rule of law must be upheld and urged investigators to categorise suspects according to the crimes committed to quickly finalise he cases.

It is said, Ruto’s allies in Rift Valley are not happy with the politics. Raila is playing on the amnesty issue. They claim the PM is out to fix them politically if the arrested are not released.

Political analysts say, if Ruto and his cronies do not bargain for the release of the arrested youth, then their political future hangs in balance in the region. Already parents and relatives of the arrested are cursing local politicians for having cheated them and now they fly cabinet flags while their sons continue languishing in prisons and police cells. They have vowed never to vote them back unless their children are released unconditionally.

Aware of the deal, Ruto has started making inroads in Mt Kenya region and over the weekend he was in Nithi constituency whose area MP is Kareke Mbiuki of Kanu and who is assistant minister in Ruto’s Agriculture in a move seen as aimed at mending fences.

By late last week, word had it, former Kalenjin legislators were planning to call public rallies in the region condemning current legislators for having misled the youth. With the tag as the Kalenjin political leader, Ruto has been forced to be vocal on the amnesty issue.

But the political suspicion between Ruto and Raila in ODM is perhaps what is making Kikuyu elders lean towards the PM.

As the Kibaki succession take shape, Gema community has discovered it is not easy for one of them to succeed the ageing Othaya politician hence a need to strike deals with other regions.

To them, compared to Ruto, Raila is the person to take care of their interests. Why they claim years back in 1996, Ford Asili chairman Kenneth Matiba, Raila, Charity Kaluki Ngilu, Ngengi Muigai had formed an alliance and met at a luncheon facilitated by Nginyo Kariuki. Although the alliance never took off as expected, this time round Kikuyu elders are keen on it.

But Raila, a shrewd politician said to be eyeing the 2012 presidency will be comfortable with the Kikuyu on his board. He is aware of the rebellion he is currently facing among the Kalenjin ODM legislators and needs to work on a plan B.

Already, it is argued in 2002, Kibaki won the presidency without the support of the Kalenjin vote. At that time, the Luo, Kikuyu vote played a crucial role. If Raila the man who helped Kibaki capture presidency in 2002 can bring the bloc Kikuyu vote on his side, then he does not need Ruto and the rebels in 2012.

This is the script the Kikuyu elders seem to be reading from. To them, it is easy to work with a Luo who helped Kibaki become president peaceful than others.

It is the current fight over the Kikuyu vote that Raila has targeted vice-president Kalonzo Musyoka, the man a faction from Mt Kenya region mostly Kirinyaga, Meru and Mbeere believe is the right one to succeed Kibaki.

Initially, Kikuyu elders wanted to revive talks with the Kalenjin community held during the Moi era days but were reluctant after it emerged that it will not take off since already a section of Kalenjins are opposed to the resettlement of IDPs.

Apart from Karume, another Kikuyu tycoon behind the Luo-Kikuyu political unity is the proprietor of Kirinyaga construction and chairman of central province parliamentary group, Ephraim Maina. He is a close ally of Odinga since the days he served in Moi’s cabinet.

Other sources say, Raila’s scheme is to involve Kalenjin MPs not allied to Ruto in the talks. They include Roads Minister Kipkalya Kones, industrialization Minister henry Kosgey and Higher Education Minister Dr Sally Kosgei.

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