President Mwai Kibaki this Sunday officially announced his candidature in the upcoming general elections in characteristic style – matter of fact, simple announcement that he is running and that he is running in the new consensus based vehicle, Party of National Unity.
The announcement was to start at three and ten minutes before three, the president arrived at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in a black Mercedes limousine, with private license plates, the significance of which was appropriate. He should not attend private matters – such as the candidature of the next presidency, with the officialdom of the current presidency.
For some time, the president and his team disappeared into an ante-room at the refurbished plenary hall, where the team was arranged in order to be paraded. At 3.10 or thereabouts, the president walked to the plenary hall, with Moody Awori and Musikari Kombo at his right and left respectively, and the rest of the team, which included incidentally KANU Chairman, Uhuru Kenyatta.
The president then went straight to the podium where in a short speech – barely 800 words, I surmise – he announced that in the spirit of the pursuit of unity, he would run for the next general elections under the ticket of the newly founded Party of National Unity, which he said, comprised of several parties that were thinking alike – KANU, Ford Kenya, Ford People, Shirikisho, Narc Kenya and others. He listed them in that order.
Once he had finished the speech that was interrupted many times by hearty applause and shouts of “Kibaki tena,” a number of the leaders in his team – the significant ones that is, were allowed to say “one or two words.”
In order, Ford People’s Simeon Nyachae, Kanu’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Ford Kenya’s Musikari Kombo, Shirikisho’s Shakombo and Narc Kenya’s Raphael Tuju, stood to reaffirm openly that their parties had agreed to support Kibaki for the next presidency. Minister for Agriculture, Kipruto arap Kirwa also spoke in this line-up, ostensibly to represent the Rift Valley people (regional balancing).
By Four Fifteen, the event rounded up to a close.
And with that, Kibaki has strategically placed himself in the position of winner. It is no secret that the overwhelming majority of Kenyans want him to come back to “finish the job”. It is also no secret that at this point, none of the other candidates has strategically positioned himself (invariably they are all men now), to get the support of all Kenyans, in Kibaki’s stead.
The main problem that was hampering Kibaki all through was the style of elections traditionally held previously. Before, the president was the head of a party or coalition and everyone that followed that coalition had to be issued a ticket – by the party or coalition, certainly not their party of choice, which was swallowed in the process.
What Kibaki and his strategists did, is that they ensured that he is the only individual candidate to run under the coalition vehicle, PNU, and everyone else was free to run under the auspices of their own party. This means that people will vote KANU, ODM, Ford Kenya etc and still vote for the president.
Essentially, this means that the 10th parliament will be an interesting one, to be sure. While Kibaki will have the presidency again, parliament will be a much more independent thinking one, than all nine preceding it, because even while the parties support the president, they are doing so on the understanding that he will represent their interest in the implementation of his duty – such as in Shirikisho’s case, Majimbo (Devolution of government resources).
For the first time, in Kenya’s four and a half decade history, the sitting president will have little control of parliament and he will have to work hard to retain its (parliament’s) support of his initiatives. To take credit for this and to ensure that we shall live in interesting times over the next five year term, I suppose, we have the president and the next leader of the official opposition, The Hon. Raila “Agwambo” Odinga, MP.
You heard it here, first. I’m so excited.