Traffic to this site has shot up dramatically and I am also reliably informed that newspapers in Kenya are selling like crazy over the last week or so since the dramatic events of Valentines day. But what do you expect when a deadly game of political chess is unfolding before our very eyes, whose outcome could easily bring back chaos to Kenya? There is no doubt that Kenyans are very concerned about what is really going on with the grand coalition government and the possible implications of that government going belly up on us.
ODM’s brilliant political maneuver whose objective was to position Raila Odinga as a champion fighter against corruption in sharp contrast to lethargic Mwai Kibaki was well executed but did not quite work according to plan. One of the things that went terribly wrong was that Kenyans were quickly able to read the real motives behind the actions of ODM’s Raila Odinga. That is NOT good because the first rule in these kinds of political games is that thou shall never show the fish the hook. I mean how do you expect fish to bite when they can clearly see the hook?
The fact that the press was able to swiftly read the political game plan here is clear testament to the fact that the Kenyan press has matured tremendously from the days of blindly reporting what the politicians say at press conferences and political rallies to deep and instant analysis of the dangerous cards being played under the table. The cards under the table are usually the real news.
The other thing that went wrong was that President Kibaki did not receive the strong rebuke from the Kenyan public blaming him for condoning corruption amongst his ministers. In fact Kenyans have completely ignored the big elephant in the room.
But what I find even more fascinating is the fact that opinion is divided over whether what Raila and ODM are doing is above board. Those from the old school are livid and are certain that forcing a general election is not very different from a military coup like the one Raila helped organize in 1982. Their argument is that anything that destabilizes the country is dangerous and certainly NOT acceptable. More so if there is the possibility of it resulting in blood-shed. The Prime Minister’s handlers seem to have taken note of this and the tone of recent statements from the deputy leader of the party and others seem to be designed to downplay the instability being caused. On the other end of the scale are Kenyans who believe that in competitive politics, anything goes as long as it is NOT illegal.
A so-called leaked confidential document from ODM that a reliable source supplied me with last night made for some very interesting reading. The document indicates that ODM are keen on forcing a general election not later than Feb 2011. My hunch is that the dossier is fake. But to produce such a document and convince people one always needs to mix facts and reliable intelligence with whatever it is you want to “plant” in the minds of the public. I am convinced that the consensus within ODM insiders is that Raila’s presidency can only succeed if early elections are called and the date they have in mind is not later than Feb 2011.
My personal view is that Raila Odinga’s best chance to be president has passed. The truth is that even if general elections were called today, the ODM captain will not ascend to the presidency. My position is that Raila Odinga will remain the best president Kenya never had. That is a very sad fact because the truth is that Mr Odinga won the 2007 general elections.
The dangerous thing here is that the PM and those close to him have still not sobered up from the heady support Raila got in 2007. One of the reasons for that support was a strong anti-Kibaki vote. Raila handlers seem oblivious of the fact that things will change dramatically when Kibaki is not a candidate. In fact if ODM strategists continue pushing their luck they could easily end up handing over the 4th presidency of Kenya to a nobody who will benefit enormously from a strong anti-ODM wave.
But what should really be of great concern to Kenyans is the whispered ‘foreign input’ in the attempted ODM coup of government. There are those whop believe that President Kibaki is not fit run government, especially at a dangerous time such as this when there are so many challenges facing the country. Simply put the ship called Kenya is in extremely rough waters and the only way she can have a fighting chance of steering through the danger is if the old, slow tired, lethargic captain is removed and a younger more alert one assumes command. It is whispered that many foreign governments with delicate interests in Kenya share this view and would be delighted to see a change at State house. It was not lost on close observers that major foreign powers issued carefully worded statements after the Valentine day events that seemed to lean in favour of Mr Odinga and the action he had taken against corruption in government.
Some naïve Kenyans think that the days of foreign powers sponsoring political changes in third world countries are over.
Lastly the way President Kibaki has handled this crisis has confirmed that those of his critics who say he is unfit to rule have a point. The effect would have been much better if he had done nothing on Valntine’s day and just kept his ministers in office. In any case he has no powers to retain William Ruto in office since Ruto is in government courtesy of Raila Odinga’s half of government. The powers the current president of Kenya has are such that the holder does not need to rush around issuing statements and trying to prove that they are powerful enough. That kind of action only makes them look weak and unsure of themselves and the authority they wield.
And so the deadly game of political chess continues. How will it end? Who will win? Even folks who recklessly like making predictions like this blogger cannot hazard a guess this time. Let’s just wait and see shall we? I will of course keep you posted.