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Why Uhuru, Ruto and Raila are the men to watch in 2022

President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and ODM boss Raila Odinga top the list of the bigwigs and influential people to watch in 2022 as the country holds the general election.

One Kenya Alliance, Mt Kenya Unity Forum, Chief Justice Martha Koome and IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati are also among the groupings and individuals that could shape the year.

Others are Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, Inspector General of the Police Hillary Mutyambai and National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.

Though constitutionally barred from participating in the polls, observers say President Kenyatta remains the top person to watch as his choice, or lack of it, to influence his succession would affect the political matrix.

Uhuru has bitterly fallen out with his deputy and appears to be campaigning against his election in favour of Raila – his handshake partner.

On December 1, Uhuru, in an apparent reference to the DP, warned Kenyans against electing Ruto whom he described as a man in a hurry to take over reins of power.

“You can start early (campaigns) with speed but before long, you get tired and the person you branded old will come at his pace and overtake you,” the President said in Nakuru

Political commentator Mark Bichachi, governance expert Javas Bigambo and university don Macharia Munene opined that the President’s influence in the upcoming polls cannot be gainsaid.

“Though people think his star has dimmed, there is still a huge proportion that he controls. Even if you reduce his support to 20 per cent, that is a lot and it can change the scales of any election,” Bichachi said. 

“Where he puts his hands will be very critical, similar to what [former US President] Barack Obama did for [President] Joe Biden,” he added.

The real focus, however, will be on Ruto and Raila. They are the top contenders in the bruising battle to succeed Uhuru.

All opinion polls have placed the duo at the pole positions. They command massive following in the country as they have heightened their campaigns to outdo each other.

“They are frontrunners by a mile. Those are the two people who are most likely to be president based on polls, probability and history of this country,” Bichachi said.

Political observer Charles Munyui concurred.

“Raila and Ruto are the key people to watch,” he opined.

The DP has clashed with his boss but has remained defiant, threatening to dislodge the President in his own Mt Kenya backyard.

He has all but decamped from the ruling Jubilee Party for UDA, an outfit he has described as national on whose ticket he will seek the country’s top seat.

“He [Ruto] will be the first second in command who cannot authoritatively campaign on the platform of his government impeccable development record because it is hard to lay claim to the same having worked on parallels with the President,” Munyui said.

“Ruto is under his on drive and pressure to disprove President Kenyatta that even without his support, he can win,” Bigambo said.

Munyui reckoned that Raila, who will be making his fifth stab at the presidency, has in a rare occasion appeared to be enjoying the support of the incumbent and also appears to be penetrating the vote rich Mt Kenya that has evaded him for decades.

“He has also never in his political career gone for the Mt Kenya vote. In fact, he has always dismissed the region, at best ignored it,” he said.

Unlike previous elections, Raila has escalated charm offensive of the Central Kenya region, securing the endorsement of key groupings and a section of political leaders from the region.

The former Prime Minister is said to be keen to pick a running mate from the region.

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