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When hot mics pick narratives

The press conference by Moses Kuria, Martha Karua and Mwangi Kiunjuri on Thursday was advertised as a significant moment for development in Kenya’s politics ahead of the General Election.

At the end, a hot mic on the table at the venue picked up an interesting conversation between Mr Kuria, the Gatundu South MP, and Ms Karua, who heads the barely alive Narc Kenya party.

Reviewing the task, they had just completed, Ms Karua was of the view that it had gone well, adding, “It’s a beginning na itaendelea (it will continue),” she said.

She then said something to the effect that Mr Kuria’s associate from the seaside would be happy, suggesting that someone else had been interested in the announcement they were going to make.

Mr Kuria and Mr Kiunjuri lead parties, People’s Empowerment Party and The Service Party respectively, that have for long been associated with the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), which is currently Deputy President William Ruto’s preferred vehicle for the next elections.

But with reports of infighting in the party, which plans to hold elections soon, and the clamour to be named Dr Ruto’s running mate, the competition in the pro-Ruto camp of Jubilee is bound to intensify.

The announcement by the three party leaders that they had created a caucus to champion the Central Kenya region’s unity is bound to be seen as an attempt to consolidate votes and position the individuals to fit in Dr Ruto’s government when the time comes.

Dr Ruto is confident he has the support of politicians and business leaders from the region and has gone so far as to say that they secretly back him.

But the question of whether he will have the region’s full support in his bid for the presidency still hangs over him, and has been the subject of endless newspaper stories, suggesting he is not comfortable.

His strategy so far has been restricted by the ban on political gatherings to meeting delegations at his residence in Karen, Nairobi. 

Ahead of the potentially momentous decision by the Court of Appeal on whether the five judges of the High Court were correct, Dr Ruto has steered his conversations with his visitors in that direction.

As he said that he would lead “an economic revolution that will create jobs and create opportunities and ensure that our farmers increase their productivity,” he characterized those pushing for a change of the Constitution as keener on positions than creating jobs and wealth for the downtrodden.

It might sound like it will boil down to a question of who has the better narrative, but at the end of the day, it will eventually be about creating alliances on the basis of ethnicity.   

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