Friday, November 27, 2009
Will Ruto survive this one? What about ODM?
The ongoing battle within ODM that has pitted agriculture minister William Ruto against Prime Minister Raila Odinga is unprecedented. Little wonder that obituaries are already being written about the once very popular political party called ODM.
I believe that this development is serious enough for me to abandon the ongoing debate on the draft constitution at least momentarily to discuss it.
Is this the end of ODM as we once knew it?
Just examine the history of political parties since the resumption of multi-party politics in Kenya. Remember the mighty united original Ford? What about NARC? What happened to those political parties? What happened to them is exactly what will happen to ODM. As much as many of the regular readers to this blog would hate to hear such a suggestion, that is the truth, and you hardly need to be a prophet to predict it. You simply need the patience to read a few paragraphs of history and the intellect to make simple comparisons.
The nature of political parties in Kenya is that they usually self-destruct the minute they complete the journey of getting their main passenger to the seat of power. The political parties that survive are those that are unsuccessful in this mission, they remain alive to fulfill their mission in time. In other words if ODM survives intact to field a major presidential candidate in 2012, then it will be the exception and history will have been made.
Many analysts who are unaware of what is going on behind the scenes are puzzled that Ruto should vote for the Mau evictions only to turn round a few weeks later to strongly oppose the same Mau evictions. The answer to that puzzle is not too difficult to decipher. In simple language William Ruto is fighting for political survival and has chosen to use the Mau has his trump card. What has happened is that Ruto has made too many enemies with his arrogant lone-ranger ways and some of these enemies have ganged up together to fight him as their common enemy. This would not have been too big a problem except that some of those enemies are powerful “monied” and experienced enough to be a great cause for concern for the Ruto camp. Retired President Moi and Raila Odinga are now on the same side in a bid to see this “upstart”-young-man-who-is-in-a-terrible-hurry, completely defeated. Granted Moi is using old political tactics that are definitely on their last legs. Like the creation of the Kalenjin Council of elders. Gideon Moi has also been in campaign mode for a long time and if you followed him and did not read any other news on Kenya you would be sure that the general elections are going to be held next month. The strategist and brains behind his every move is of course his father. Granted, Moi senior is still smarting from the resounding defeat he suffered in the hands of Raila in 2002. But he is even more upset about the more recent defeat in the hands of this young man called William “who does he think he is?” Ruto.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga has been convinced that the best he can do for himself is to deal with William Ruto before 2012. And he has been told that he can still get a sizeable amount of Kalenjin votes without Ruto’s help. Not the same overwhelming support of 2007 but at least 50 per cent of it. In other words some people are saying that the Kalenjin vote in the next general elections will be sharply divided.
Actually the game plan is to destroy Ruto politically before Ocampo gets to him so that there will be absolutely no fall out when he departs.
Handlers in both the Ruto and Raila camps have been behaving very strangely in recent times and this has led me to the conclusion that the whispers about Ruto defending himself at the Hague by incriminating Raila in the post election skirmishes may not be so far fetched after all. The truth is that the Kalenjin community had prepared months in advance for the violence. However Ruto handlers have plenty of evidence to suggest that the order to kill Kikuyus in the Rift Valley came from the highest authority in the ODM hierarchy. Remember the slogan; “No Raila no peace”? This fear amongst the prime Minister’s handlers is what led to Raila’s strong insistence that the perpetrators of the post-election violence be tried locally (including the king pins).
What are Raila’s chances of political survival assuming that he can clean house and deal with Ruto? Regular readers of this blog will know my view on that. While it is true that Raila Odinga can never be underestimated (you have to respect a man who came back from the gallows at Kamiti), my view is that Raila will never again wield the power and influence he wielded in the run up to the 2007 general elections which he actually won as every intelligent non-partisan Kenyan knows.
All in all this Raila/Ruto battle is not a small thing and neither is it a passing cloud. It is something that will be prominent in Kenya’s political landscape for as long as both men remain standing. Indeed it is the kind of battle that could create room for the emergence of a new third political force on the scene. But there is a big “if” there. And that is IF this war does not degenerate into chaos.
Posted by Chris at 6:00 AM