In the months leading up to a presidential election, it has become clear that President Kenyatta prefers one candidate over another. One such example was when he allowed ODM leader Raila Odinga speak after Deputy Prime Minister William Ruto at an official public function last week – something done only for very important guests or leaders who have been given permission by protocol officers beforehand so as not interfere with any other nation’s politics while visiting Kenya
The head of state hasn’t openly declared his support yet but repeated breaches like these sending signals about how they feel in tight race which will take place next year mark strong indication.
The President broke protocol once again on Sunday, retracting his speech to allow Mr Odinga address the gathering at Nairobi’s refurbished Uhuru Gardens.
“We have been in communication for close to 14 months with Hon Raila Odinga when I started this project of Uhuru Gardens. We have been here with him as he offered me advise and we thank him for what he has helped us achieve. It seems these people want you to address them, come and greet them,” the President said as he welcomed the ODM leader to make his speech.
The Deputy President of Kenya usually speaks before welcoming the Head of State and then it is time for him to make an address. But this Sunday, Kenyan tradition was broken when Uhuru Kenyatta invited Victor Odinga after Ruto had already spoken at Wang’uru stadium during Mashujaa day celebrations on October 20th – something that many would never have expected!
The ODM leader also got a similar treatment at the June 1 Madaraka Day celebrations in Kisumu, cementing his perceived preference for State functions over main rival. He was referred to as “statesman” by President Kenyatta and their handshake on March 9th that year cooled tensions from an election dispute last decade- elections renewal period began with violence between supporters of Mr Odinga and Ruto respectively leaving some dead or injured before peacekeepers finally responded quickly enough; this time round there will not be any trouble because everyone knows Mr Odinga cannot win
The meeting happened back in 2018 when they said nice things after shaking hands which reduced tension among Kenyan citizens who had been arguing about whether presidential winner William would take office as expected.
Kenyans are voting in a general election next year, and the race is expected to be tight. The Orange Democratic Party (ODP) has been allocated with responsibility for handling President Kenyatta’s administration since last handshake rapprochement four years ago; while opposition leader David Ogema of Azimio La Umoja Movement promises change through “bottom up” economics if his party wins power–a reference few will forget come 2022 when another round takes place.
Kenyatta’s breach of protocol has caused a stir in the country with many wondering what will happen next year. The former National Assembly Majority Leader, Aden Duale downplayed Kenyans’ concern by claiming “it was only done out of mercy for Mr PM.” He went on to say that if their are plans related ODM then they must prepare hard because it’s going be tough competition against Wainshs opposition party who is also seeking re-election
The president recently fell out due largely thanks -or so we think-, his early campaigns which helped him secure victory at last months polls where he lost badly after being contender.
“Whether Raila Amollo Odinga is a project of Uhuru Kenyatta or deep state or anybody else, Kenya is a democratic State and it’s only the people of Kenya who will go in the next election to vote,” said Mr Duale.
“The history of projects is well known here; a classical example is President Kenyatta himself (in 2002). He is a victim of being a State project and I don’t think Raila Odinga will peg his winning the 2022 elections on being a government project,” he added.
Political analyst Dr Alutalala Mukhwana termed the president’s move yesterday as part of a wider strategy to help give Mr Odinga political leverage without necessarily pronouncing that he supports him as that “would append State project tag on him.”
“National functions of today’s (yesterday’s) stature follow strictly with government protocols where the deputy president invites the president and the president addresses the nation and after that the function comes to an end.”
“At the tail end of the president’s address he tactfully said that the people wanted Raila Odinga to address them but it was plainly the president’s way of bringing in the Rt Hon prime minister to address a nation on Jamhuri day and it basically places the former Prime Minister above the DP in terms of protocol,” Dr Mukhwana said.
He went on: “In terms of the political optics and posturing, that sends a very strong message to Raila’s supporters that he has the much talked about deep state support and all the trappings of power that come with it.”