Karua rattles power brokers Updated 15 hr(s) 36 min(s) ago Related Stories Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta moments before he boarded the flight to The Netherlands at the Jomo Kenyatta Intern Two of the ICC suspects: Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Head of the Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Martha Karua Karuas dwindling fortunes in central Kenya Re-elect Khalwale, Kenneth, Jirongo, Kituyi tell Ikolomani residents Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta By Alex Ndegwa The Kibaki Succession is causing ripples in central Kenya, where efforts at ethnic unity have evoked the fury of a presidential aspirant. While Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta is seen as the regions de facto leader, his camp has been criticised for suppressing dissent, particularly that presented by Gichugu MP Martha Karua and Planning Assistant Minister Peter Kenneth. Environment Minister John Michuki last year sparked controversy, when he declared Uhuru would succeed President Kibaki as the communitys leader. He had hinted anyone eyeing the vote-rich region must recognise Uhuru or brace for a fight. Karua, who launched her presidential bid on Wednesday, dismissed Michukis dictatorial suggestions, saying the electorate should decide without coercion. In Parliament this week, Karua claimed "political thuggery" is being unleashed to cow her into submission. She alleged the attack on her key supporter in Gichugu was politically motivated. But Uhurus camp says contrary to suggestions other competitors are being blocked, the Gatundu South MPs position has been unity should be sought through competitive primaries. "The Deputy Prime Minister has said experiences have underscored the need for the region to unite. He has invited those interested in the top job for joint nominations, and made it clear he is prepared to back whoever wins," said Munyori Buku, the DPMs director of communications. He added: "The DPM finds intriguing claims it is undemocratic when central Kenya seeks a common position, but democratic when others front one candidate. What is good for the goose should be good for the gander." "Ethnic mobilisation has been routine since 1963. The plot has been to harvest tribal votes and then the tribal chieftains use the bloc to negotiate for their own political agenda," says Senior Counsel and former Kabete MP, Paul Muite. But Peter Kagwanja, president of the Africa Policy Institute, says the fright aroused by a united central Kenya onslaught has often led to schemes to contain the influence. Prof Kagwanja, a member of PNU think tank, alleges ambitions of Karua and Kenneth are driven by outside forces determined to divide central Kenya. "Some of the wealthy power brokers are tempted to fancy them as providing an Obama Moment here," he adds. The apprehension in the Uhuru camp can be explained through an analysis of voting patterns since the re-introduction of multiparty politics in 1992, when Kikuyu candidates split the vote. President Moi won first multi-party election in 1992, even though he received 36.7 per cent of the national vote. He exploited a divided opposition after split of the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (Ford) into factions headed by Jaramogi Odinga (Ford-Kenya) and Kenneth Matiba (Ford-Asili). But political analysts suggest Democratic Partys Mwai Kibaki run for president in 1992 ruined opposition quest to dislodge Moi. "Kibaki and Matiba would have secured the best opposition combined vote of 45.7 per cent, enough to comfortably win in five of eight provinces," Roddy Fox wrote in 1996 in a paper, The Bleak Future for Multi-Party Elections in Kenya. The 1992 constitutional amendment required the winning presidential candidate, besides polling more votes than any other contenders, should obtain at least 25 per cent of the popular vote in at least five of eight provinces. Moi secured 1.9 million votes, Matiba 1.4 million (26 per cent), and Kibaki over one million (19.5 per cent). Matiba and Kibaki split votes in Central, Eastern, and Nairobi provinces considered their strongholds. Of Centrals 999,824 votes Matiba swept two-thirds (621,401) while Kibaki scooped the other third (344,819). In Eastern, Kibaki seized nearly half the votes (399,381), while Matiba got 10 per cent (86,710). In Nairobi Matiba secured 164,553 (44 per cent), and Kibaki polled 69,713 (18 per cent). It was only when Moi was constitutionally barred from contesting in 2002 when Kibaki won, riding on a euphoric opposition alliance, the National Rainbow Coalition, with now Prime Minister Raila Odinga pulling the crowd. Kibaki won over 62 per cent of the popular vote (3.6 million), defeating Mois preferred successor, Uhuru Kenyatta, who polled 1.8 million. Analysts observe with opposition unity achieved, Kanus grip on power was untenable with presidential contest pitting candidates from the same community. "The presidential fight was between two Kikuyus thus giving an edge to party politics over ethnicity. Raila, Kibakis main opponent in the December 2007 presidential election, had supported Kibaki," the Centre for African Studies observed in a paper, The Kenya Crisis: Post-December 2007 Elections. Nevertheless Uhurus candidature shored up Kanus fortunes in Central Province, where the presidential vote rose from 5.6 to 30 per cent. Kanu also held steady in Nairobi where Moi had won 20.6 per cent, and Uhuru took 20.7 per cent. Uhuru grounded out a third of the votes (308,012) in Central, but Kibaki swept 68 per cent of the vote (701,916). Kibaki scooped 72 per cent of the Eastern vote, while Uhuru got about a third. Kibaki seized 76 per cent of Nairobi vote, while Uhuru got 20 per cent. Uhuru conceded defeat, and assumed leadership of official opposition. But he paid Kibaki with the same coin in 2005, when the Government lost a referendum vote. Uhuru backed President Kibakis re-election in 2007, possibly for a turn when Kibaki retires next year. A decade earlier Kibaki had enjoyed the central Kenya bloc vote during the 1997 General Election, which Matiba boycotted - but Moi yet again whipped split opposition. "Ever since the restoration of multiparty politics in 1992 virtually every major ethnic group has fielded a presidential candidate, and gone on to vote for one of their own," wrote Peter Wanyande in 2006 on Electoral Politics and Election Outcomes in Kenya. Muite is optimistic the constitutional requirement the winning presidential candidate receives more than half of the votes cast, and at least 25 per cent of the votes in more than half of the 47 counties, would break the ethnic jinx. "No community can satisfy this requirement and should none of the candidates pass the threshold, a run-off takes place. The beauty of a run-off is that people get to choose the lesser evil," Muite says.