Will the working relationship between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga last until 2022?
Well, from the look of things, the handshake partners may be divided by the time Kenyans head to the ballot for the next general elections.
DP Ruto seems to be changing his strategy to drive a wedge between Uhuru and his handshake partner.
In an apparent effort to set the two handshake partners on a warpath, the DP appears to have devised a new plan to gain favour with the President and portray Raila as the enemy within.
Ruto, who has set his eyes on succeeding President Uhuru, has not been at ease since the two erstwhile political rivals closed ranks and shook hands on March 9, 2018. Ruto and the Nasa trio were excluded.
The DP and his troops have perceived the handshake as a political arrangement aimed at stifling his ambitions of becoming the country’s fifth President in favour of Raila.
Ruto has suddenly made an about-turn in his criticism of the Jubilee administration’s performance as his ally- former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko make sensational allegations on the government on the 2017 election chaos that have the potential of dividing the ‘two brothers’.
At a church service in Dagoretti South last Sunday, Ruto strongly supported the President and his administration’s development record and went ahead to list projects he and the President have completed since 2013.
The apparent change of heart – or strategy – came a day after he admitted Jubilee administration’s failure to realise its development agenda but blamed it on Raila for “infiltrating and diverting” the government priorities.
Ruto scathingly attacked the former Prime Minister, accusing him of despising, humiliating and embarrassing the head of state with his constant attacks attack on Jubilee’s output.
Raila and his allies have lately criticised the government’s development record in their BBI and 2022 election campaigns.
The ODM brigade has painted Ruto as the face of Jubilee’s failures and accused him of trying to run away from his own government’s failures.
They cited the laptop project, stadiums and creation of at least one million jobs for the youth every year as among the pledges Jubilee has failed to deliver.
Political analysts Elias Mutuma and Mark Bichachi observe Ruto as a man out to exploit every opportunity that may create a rift between Uhuru and Raila.
“The friendship between Uhuru and Raila is costing the DP…so he would ensure that the two go their separate ways so that he can have a better chance of succeeding his boss,” Mutuma said in an interview with a local daily.
He added that Ruto is wounded and feels his space was taken over by Raila and thus will be keen to take advantage of any scenario that would see them apart.
“If he gets an opportunity to edge Raila out, he would not hesitate. He is taking advantage of the fact that there has been a bit of some discomfort within ODM circles [over the handshake],” he said.
“Ruto understands everyone loves anyone who opposes the sitting government. That is why is roping in Raila so that he can increase his chances,” Bichachi said.
And in what appears part of the wider plan to split Uhuru and Raila, former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, a close ally of the DP, sensationally claimed Interior CS Karanja Kibicho and other influential people in the Jubilee administration planned the 2017 election chaos, which was then blamed on ODM.
Making the claims in the presence of the DP, Sonko alleged that he and influential people in the Jubilee administration, otherwise known as ‘the deep state’, printed ODM branded T-shirts.
Kibicho has denied Sonko’s claims and has already recorded a statement with the DCI. He has threatened to sue the ex-city county chief.
Sonko’s assertions, however, triggered anger in Raila’s ODM and threatened to sever the cordial relationship the outfit and the President’s Jubilee Party enjoy.
“ODM demands a full inquiry into the matter to establish the motives and extent of these mafia-like covert criminal acts as well as all persons and institutions involved,” secretary general Edwin Sifuna demanded.