Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga
Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga

 By Reporter

President Uhuru Kenyatta is slowly but steadily becoming aggressive with his deputy William Ruto, with ODM leader Raila Odinga playing a key role behind the scenes.

The President, in consultation with several people including Raila, removed Kipchumba Murkomen as Leader of Majority in the Senate and Susan Kihika as Majority Whip.

Before that, Uhuru and Raila senators ganged up to impeach former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu who is aligned to the DP’s camp.

 The two leaders also consulted each other before Kanu and Jubilee signed a post-election coalition agreement which has now been challenged at the Political Parties Tribunal.

 “Raila and the President are working closely in the spirit of the handshake,” said Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe

Although Murkomen and Kihika have gone to court to challenge their removal, it is understood that the President is planning further changes including a major Cabinet reshuffle that could see Raila’s party join the government.

The President could also remove Ruto’s allies from House committees and parastatals.

In return for his support, Raila’s team wants a major stake in the new government, according to multiple sources.

“Raila and Uhuru need each other but Uhuru now needs Raila more than Raila needs him,” former Cabinet minister Franklin Bett told the Star.

Sources said Uhuru had requested Raila, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and ANC boss Musalia Mudavadi to submit two names each of individuals they wanted to be named to the Cabinet.

However, Raila is said to be pushing for the consideration of parliamentary strength of each political party at the negotiating table.

“It’s these negotiations that have delayed an overhaul in government,” sources familiar with the behind-the-scene intrigues told the Star.

In addition, the ODM leader is said to have asked for a huge stake in the control of parastatals.

He also wants ODM to take charge of a new office to be domiciled in the Office of the President that would be in charge of economic recovery.

Sources said Kalonzo had proposed that he be among the Wiper nominees to join Cabinet.

This was days after his national executive committee gave him the nod to negotiate with Uhuru.

The creation of the GNU is aimed at steadying the shaky Jubilee government following a fallout in the Executive between Uhuru and Ruto.

The negotiations for the establishment of a GNU have been going on silently for a couple of months.

Yesterday, nominated MP Maina Kamanda said the President was ready to work with all players to deal with graft and revive the economy after the coronavirus pandemic.

“Those who started 2022 campaigns earlier are well known and have continued to undermine the President. It is time that the President asserted authority,” said the ex-Stahere MP.

The lawmaker warned Ruto against insubordination, saying a disrespectful deputy president was a threat to Uhuru’s legacy.

“Let work begin now,” he said.

The political war pitting Ruto against his boss has already crossed the Rubicon and now Raila appears to be firmly in charge of the President’s fate, two years after signing the handshake deal.

The President’s allies believe that while they are using Raila as the masterstroke to politically annihilate Ruto’s State House ambitions, he would be key in the success of Uhuru’s final term.

“For me, it looks like Ruto is the man Uhuru needed out of his way so that he can spend the little time remaining to secure some legacy,” Bett said.

Depicting the high premium Uhuru has placed on Raila, there was panic in the President’s camp last Wednesday when Raila’s allies railed at the President’s administration accusing it of incompetence.

The attacks caught President Uhuru’s men by surprise.

The incident triggered a series of consultations and meetings that saw Raila summon his lieutenants to rein them in after State House reached out.

Uhuru’s camp feared that the attacks by Siaya Senator James Orengo, ODM chairman John Mbadi and Minority Whip Junet Mohamed could expose the President at a time he is facing rebellion from Ruto.

Uhuru’s decision to kick Ruto’s allies out of plum parliamentary leadership positions coupled with the Jubilee-Kanu coalition agreement appeared to seal Ruto’s fate.

However, the DP commands considerable support among MPs where critical government business including the budget is executed.

Should Raila abandon Uhuru then most of the government business could be paralysed in Parliament.

Jubilee has a total of 171 MPs in the National Assembly with Ruto’s camp claiming to control over half of the lawmakers.

With Kanu on board, the President now enjoys the support of an additional 10 MPs from the Independence party.

Raila’s ODM has 76 MPs in the National Assembly, enough to fill the Ruto gap.

On Monday, the President chaired a Senate parliamentary meeting that ousted Murkomen and Kihika as Majority Leader and Majority Whip respectively.

The decision was a major blow to Ruto.

 West Pokot Senator Samwel Poghisio of Kanu was named to succeed Murkomen, a political development that could chip away Ruto’s sway in Rift Valley.

“Ruto is no mean politician and while he is aware of the 48 Laws of Power, he may fight back politically to protect his foothold of his backyard and even beyond. That is why Uhuru needs Raila’s army,” said political analyst Felix Odhiambo.

Odhiambo said the DP is likely to become restless in the coming months after the coronavirus pandemic.

Initially, Uhuru had successfully wrested away Jubilee from under Ruto’s grip after a coup in the National Management Committee in the last nail that demolished their political chemistry.

Despite protestations, Uhuru took charge of the critical organ that is charged with running Jubilee affairs by installing his allies.

Kanu chairman Gideon Moi’s rivalry with the DP will escalate after the scion of Kenya’s second President accepted an offer from Uhuru to join the government at a crucial moment when Ruto is being cut down politically.

The duo does not see eye to eye, in an icy relationship further worsened by their presidential ambitions.

They are already embroiled in supremacy battles for the control of the vote-rich Rift Valley with the formalisation of the Jubilee-Kanu pact seen as the last straw that could break the camel’s back.