A politician, whether from America or from Africa, is made of the same clay; a clay that you trust at your own peril. This was brought to the fore in most brutal fashion by US president Barack Obama when he, in less than a minute, marked what some say could be the beginning of the fall of Raila Odinga.
Indeed, without saying it, Obama in the ears of many endorsed Uhuru Kenyatta’s second term. Those who attended Nairobi State House functions including the dinner say the words and body language between the two left analysts questioning the initial theory; choices have consequences remarks then propagated by the American envoy in Kenya then, Johnny Carson.
Opposition faces present at the state dinner were left wondering as Obama and Uhuru danced to Sauti Soul lyrics as if they had for years shared cigarettes and drinks in social joints. Unconfirmed reports say that as it is a norm, a visiting president has to carry a present to his host; Obama present to Uhuru was a set of designer suits assembled in US. Uhuru is said be a fan of American attire and unlike the Britons who fathom ties, he is not.
The US according to analysts seems to have given Uhuru a clean bill of health and the rare and unsuspected support and endorsement. In fact, it is whispered that many politicians including deputy president William Ruto are angling on hanging on Uhuru for survival come 2017.
In short, the DP needs Uhuru than the president needs him ahead of 2017. One loser in the Obama visit is Cord leader Raila who at one time said Obama is his cousin.
The writings are finally on the wall that Obama has no time for Raila as far as 2017 elections are concerned. The US, though, cannot directly influence the outcome of the 2017 elections; it is evidently clear now that Uhuru will be their darling and the new kid on the bloc in regional East Africa and the Great Lakes politics.
Going by Obama speech at AU meeting in Addis Ababa where he stated Kenya was an emerging economic power after the new constitution, Uhuru is set to be the western capitals’ blue eyed boy in the troubled Great Lakes region.
America’s involvement in Kenya politics dates back to the 1990s when campaigns for the introduction of multi-party politics began. This was the time George Bush was the US president with Smith Hempstone as the roving ambassador. He was appointed by Bush on November 6 1989 and left in February 1993 after the first multi-party politics dawned.
Both Bush and Hempstone had no time for the Kanu government under Daniel Moi. However, Moi won the first multi-party elections in 1992. Come 1997 elections, Bill Clinton was the president and who like Bush, did not have time for Moi but he still won.
Bush is said to have used then Ambassador Prudence Bushnell who was appointed on June 11 1996 and left in May 1999. The 2002 elections saw the US play a vital role in ending the Kanu regime.
It was under George W Bush that Ambassador William Bellamy secretly bankrolled the opposition Narc under Mwai Kibaki who later emerged victorious against Kanu’s Uhuru. Bellamy left in 2006 just a year before the chaotic 2007 elections. He is said to have had a soft spot on Raila.
On assuming office, Kibaki men were drunk with power and US slowly withdrew their support after a number of Kibaki ministers were involved in serious financial scandals. Kibaki on realising that Bush had withdrawn support also moved towards East and abandoned the US for China. Raila capitalised on the East move to endear himself to Europe.
The Bush administration was tough on Kibaki’s ministers who were drunk with power and some of whom were later named in major financial scandals. Among them were Kiraitu Murungi, David Mwiraria and Chris Murungaru.
America was further disappointed after their favourite boy John Githongo, who was the anti-corruption czar, was hounded out of office after presenting a report implicating top Kibaki ministers in corruption. Githongo later resigned and flew out of the country fearing for his life.
During the 2007 campaigns, Obama who was Illinois Senator started grooming Raila to face Kibaki. This was done through the support of Michael Ranneberger whom sources say was a close ally to Raila. Raila was a key face beside Obama during his visit then as a senator.
In one of the Wikileaks, Ranneberger told Washington that Raila’s victory was snatched by Kibaki and PNU and that it was not a secret that Kibaki was rigged in by the then Electoral Commission of Kenya.
It further went on to say that although Raila’s campaign kitty was well oiled by local and international financiers including those from the US, there were a number of loopholes in his campaign team. The US discovered that Raila and his team were more interested in pocketing the hundreds of millions rather than using them for campaigns.
When Obama won the presidency in 2008, he supported Raila who was then the PM and prepared him for 2013 elections. It was during his tenure as PM that he visited the US and met Obama and his family at White House. Obama is said to have instructed his ambassador Robert Godec to give Raila support hence his remarks choices have consequences.
Obama’s support for Raila in 2013 was based on assumption that being the PM, he was in the system and that he was like the incumbent and could easily detect any form planned election rigging and win now that Kibaki was not running. To Obama and America, Raila would be the man to succeed Kibaki and not Uhuru. Fear of Raila presidency saw Kibaki men bring on board Musalia Mudavadi who they argued was sober and level headed unlike Raila who will be revengeful.
To Kibaki aides, Uhuru a Kikuyu succeeding Kibaki was next to impossible and more was the ICC ghost hovering over his head. America political desk in Kenya had also a thought. Uhuru candidancy to Raila and his schemers was not as serious as that of Mudavadi and when he decided to run after shelving to back Mudavadi in Jubilee at the instigation of Ruto, Raila team concluded Mudavadi had been messed up and Luhyas will vote for him in protest. To Raila, the anti-Kikuyu and Kalenjin sentiments among other Kenyans tribes will work in his favour. The 2013 controversial results had Uhuru defeating Raila.
Americans are of the view that age limit will automatically knock out Raila who has now clocked 70 years while Uhuru is 53. Ruto is 48 while Amani leader Musalia Mudavadi is 54 with Wetang’ula edging 58. Former vice president Kalonzo Musyoka is now at 61 while Kibaki is 83 years. It is believed that when aged leaders in Africa assume power, they tend to become senile and occasionally misused by those around them.
After Raila and Cord rejected the election results and the matter moved to the Supreme Court, Obama had confidence that with Chief Justice Willy Mutunga who was plucked from the NGO world and with an independent Judiciary, the ruling will be a key one. It upheld Uhuru’s victory.
We have since gathered that America requested for a comprehensive report on the performance of both the opposition and the government and specifically on Raila’s political future.
Based on the findings of the report, Obama is now said to have made up his mind on Raila’s political future hence his new found political marriage with Uhuru. To Americans, with the emerging Kenyan economy and its strategic location, it is a base to rely on as it counters the Chinese influence in subSaharan Africa. In his initial days in presidency, Uhuru openly hit at western capitals calling them imperialist out to impose issues on Africans.
The report compiled depicts Raila and his party ODM as lacking internal democracy. The report says that Raila is not a democrat and cannot be relied on to push for any meaningful reform agenda even if he wins 2017 elections.
He cannot agree to hand a presidential party ticket to anyone as long as he is running. In fact, the report reveals the so called presidential nomination Raila engages in is just a scheme like 2007 in ODM when he faced Mudavadi which is well captured and documented. Come 2013 when Raila allies thought he will succeed Kibaki and Mudavadi emerging factor in ODM, it is said at the behest of Raila himself, Mudavadi was to be put under pressure either to back Raila or quit the party.
The report is said to have focused on ODM nominations in both 2007 and 2013 elections. The report reveals how Raila manipulates nomination results where his allies are guaranteed nomination certificates whether they win or not.
A perfect example is in his political home turf of Luo Nyanza where the election board officers used intimidation or in some cases placed unreasonable and unconstitutional requirements to lock out candidates branded either moles or rebels.
A number of Raila loyalists were defeated during nominations but sources say they had superior financial backing and were finally declared the winners. The likes of Anyang’ Nyong’o, Omondi Anyanga, Oburu Odinga, Rasanga Amoth, Ruth Odinga, Elizabeth Ongoro, late Otieno Kajwang, Dalmas Otieno, Aduma Owuor, Shakeel Shabbir and many others were beaten hands down during ODM primaries but at Raila’s intervention, it saw them fly the ODM flag.
But it was not only at parliamentary, gubernatorial, senatorial or county assembly nominations where nominations have always been a sham. At the presidential level, Raila tactically locked out the likes of Musalia Mudavadi who had shown interest in flying the ODM presidential flag in 2017. Raila is also associated with political hooliganisms all the way in his heyday in Ford Kenya.
Raila had used his influence in the party which he runs as a personal property to sneak in a clause which makes the party leader the automatic presidential candidate. This forced the likes of Mudavadi and Ruto to ditch ODM for new political outfits.
The report further reveals how Raila has also hijacked the 2017 Cord presidential ticket through premature and early campaigns and without consultations with is co-principals Kalonzo and Wetang’ula. The matter is complicating events in Cord. The assumption in diplomatic circles is that Raila is over ambitious and cannot back anyone for presidency.
Indications are rife that Raila will not give his co-principals a chance to fly the Cord flag. Recently, he declared that his name will be on the ballot paper in 2017. This further shows how undemocratic he is.
The US has now put Raila in the same group with Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. The two presidents lead National Resistance Movement and Zanu PF parties respectively. The two parties are said to lack internal democracy and are run as personal properties just the same way Raila is said to be running ODM and Cord to an extend.
Another reason why Obama has given up on Raila is the age factor. The report says that Raila’s best opportunity to lead Kenya was in 2007 had his victory not been stolen and was still vibrant to serve a second term from 2013. The US now believes that age has caught up with him and that it is high time he retired from active politics to pave way for more youthful and vibrant politicians.
Obama is propelling Young African Leadership Initiative and if he decides to back Raila, he will against the initiative under his administration and tutelage of White House.
Analysts say Raila had planned to use the Okoa Kenya referendum campaign to rebrand in readiness for 2017 but unfortunately, the Okoa Kenya initiative has flopped and Kenyans are likely to go to the next poll before the referendum is held. The US had hoped that the Okoa Kenya initiative could have been led by NGOs and not politicians and thus they have refused to either finance or support it.
It is against this background that come 2017, Raila will be politically irrelevant and supporting him will be counterproductive and could backfire on the US and to the advantage of China. It is for this reason that Obama is comfortable with Uhuru’s leadership as an individual although corruption in his government a worry.
The US is also concerned that apart from leading a party which lacks internal democracy, Raila’s name has featured in various mega scams of which he has never been procedurally cleared himself. Some of the scandals where Raila’s name has featured are the maize scandal, Kazi Kwa Vijana and the Molasses Plant land saga at Otongolo in Kisumu.
Obama is said to have been bitter with Raila over his persistent calls and demands that Kenya should withdraw the KDF soldiers in Somalia. At one time, Raila was categorical that even the US withdrew her soldiers and wondered why Uhuru has insisted on retaining the KDF soldiers in the peace keeping mission.
It was a rude shock for Raila when Obama declared support for his financial pledge to Kenya to help fight terrorists. Before Obama’s visit, Cord leaders had appealed to the United States to prevail over Kenya to exit Somalia.
The two leaders made the request when they held discussions with US senators and congressmen who were in the country ahead of the visit by Obama. “We appeal to the US to mobilise other countries that do not share a border with Somalia to move in and let Kenya move out,” Raila said.
Sources say that Americans are not happy with the culture that Raila is cultivating of contesting each and every presidential election. They now want him to emulate the US where when one loses presidential elections; he cannot run again and gives chance to other candidates in subsequent elections.
Sources say Obama was not keen in meeting the opposition especially after the State House meeting where Uhuru convinced him that his government is on the right track as far as fighting corruption, implementation of the constitution, women and youth affairs development as well as respect for human rights matters are concerned.
Initially, Obama was to meet the opposition at a city hotel but it was cancelled at the eleventh hour and only to be rescheduled for Kasarani.
Following the Obama remarks, Ruto last week told Kenyans to continue supporting the Jubilee government and avoid associating with opposition turncoats who were embarrassed by Obama during his Kenya visit.