Thursday, July 24, 2008



The Standard
July 20,2008
By Oscar Obonyo

He may be serving his last term in office and therefore paving way for new leadership come 2012, but President Kibaki will not slump into a political slumber just yet.

The Party of National Unity (PNU) leader is alive to the fact that he needs numbers in Parliament to govern effectively and sail safely through the tumultuous days ahead.

Aware of this reality, the President held a meeting with PNU allied legislators at Nairobi’s Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) in a bid to transform the outfit into a single political entity.

Although member parties have roundly resisted the move, the President’s gesture is quite loaded. Among the parties opposed to consolidation is Narc-Kenya, whose leader, Justice minister Martha Karua, is the President’s key ally. Ford-Kenya is equally opposed to the move while officials of the Democratic Party (DP) and Kanu remain divided on the subject.

Says Ford-Kenya’s Turkana Central MP, Mr Ekwe Ethuro: “Either way, having signed a pre-election pact, PNU member parties already have a working relation. Even the calls by Ford-Kenya to go it alone are about 2012 and not now.”

By getting on board Kanu leader, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, as Deputy Prime Minister, Kibaki has further succeeded to embrace very critical political constituency. Before last year’s polls, Kanu was the Official Opposition party.

Legality challenged

And although he initially resisted working with Prime Minister Raila Odinga of the rival Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Kibaki has gradually embraced his opponent. Up until the day before he appended his signature to the national accord agreement spearheaded by former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, the President maintained that he was duly sworn in and anyone challenging this legality should seek legal redress.

Ever since, he has decided to play ball. In a rare and unexpected gesture, President Kibaki recently paid glowing tribute to the PM for championing reconciliation efforts and helping return Kenya to peace.

“Let us thank Raila for leading us to this right direction. Let us thank him for making up his mind that we go a manageable way and I agreed,” said the President, while launching Vision 2030 on the country’s development roadmap on April 13 at KICC.

The question to ask is whether Kibaki would have survived politically, had Kalonzo Musyoka remained neutral or teamed up with Raila to protest what ODM and some international observers maintain was a stolen election.

Doubtlessly, President Kibaki has finally succeeded to win over the support of all the political heavyweights of the moment. And as a cautious parent, he has totally refused to publicly identify his preferred successor.