Kenya: Jockeying for State House 2022.

Author:Collins, Thomas
Position:Analysis - Presidential elections

When President Uhuru Kenyatta and his erstwhile arch-rival Raila Odinga shook hands in March last year, the country's political status quo was thrown into disarray. With Kenyatta due to step down in 2022, the country's top leadership seems to be up for grabs. A fascinating shuffling of alliances is already in full swing. Analysis by Thomas Collins.

When two of Kenya's great political adversaries--Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga--clashed in the country's disputed 2017 general election, few would have imagined the pair would shake hands just months later.

In what has fast become known as the 'March 9 handshake', both leaders agreed to put aside their differences in the stated pursuit of national unity and inclusivity.

As Kenya's political machinery gears up towards the 2022 elections, this unexpected camaraderie has sent ripples through the political environment --uprooting old alliances and complicating the succession crisis after President Kenyatta steps down in three years' time.

Ruto sidelined

Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto saw his presidential bid frustrated in January after his executive powers were curbed when is boss decreed Interior Secretary Fred Matiang'i should oversee the Cabinet committee and thus the country's development agenda.

Prior to that point Ruto had been canvassing up and down the country in the name of Kenyatta's Big Four development agenda--food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and universal healthcare. His critics accused him of laying claim to large projects in an effort to bolster his 2022 credentials.

His replacement is the result of a growing rift within the ruling Jubilee party between the Deputy President, an ethnic Kalenjin, and a group of influential Kikuyu politicians known as the 'Mount Kenya elite'--led most vocally by the party's former Vice Chairman David Murathe.

The President and his deputy formed an uneasy alliance in 2013 when Ruto offered his Kalenjin supporters--from around 13% of the population--to Kenyatta in exchange for the President's backing in the 2022 elections. This unofficial agreement appears to have soured as many in Kenyatta's own camp refuse to support Ruto's bid for the presidency--it also remaining unclear whether Kenyatta himself intends to stand.

The President, for his part, is keen to see his development agenda met as it will serve as a barometer for his time in office. After development had taken a backseat to election campaigning, Ruto was seen as contrary to...

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