Just few months to the August poll, President Uhuru Kenyatta has changed tack in campaigning for his preferred successor, Raila Odinga.
After attending the launch of the Azimio la Umoja, many Kenyans expected that the President would start vote hunting for the coalition nominee Raila Odinga.
But according to reports by the Standard, President Uhuru Kenyatta allies have indicated that he would not hit the campaign trail, just yet.
The President also missed the unveiling of the Azimio la Umoja Kenya One running mate Martha Karua on Monday, although he was said to be out of the country.
Yesterday, the outspoken Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe clarified, saying the president’s move is a tactical retreat to allow the Azimio aspirant run his campaigns.
“Uhuru has set the ball rolling. Everything is in place, but the President will not be on the ground to campaign. His absence during the unveiling of Raila’s running mate does not speak to issues in Azimio, but was calculated to have the aspirant run his campaign,” said Mr Murathe.
He said President Kenyatta will be running the show from behind the scene, and had unleashed the Jubilee Party machinery to campaign for Raila.
The party Director of Elections Kanini Kega said at an opportune time, Mr Kenyatta will come out to beat the drum for the Azimio team. “We are an advance team; we’re already on the road marketing Raila. When time is ripe Uhuru will be on the ground,” said the Kieni MP.
Other sources say some of the President’s political advisers were cautious of dragging him into the political mud of campaigns as he heads to retirement.
Instead, they prefer the use of delegations, opinion leaders and point men from across the country.
While opening the 9th Africities Summit in Kisumu, President Kenyatta, unlike in previous trips to the city, did not join Raila in street rallies.
In April, Mr Kenyatta had promised that when the time comes, he would be on the ground to turn the tide in favour of the Azimio presidential aspirant, especially in Mt Kenya region.
While addressing congregants at the African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa in Kandara, Murang’a County on April 14, the President hit out at those opposed to his involvement in his succession politics.
“There are those who think I would not be on the campaign trail. They should hold their horses. They will see me traversing the country telling the people my truth, where do they think they can take me? I am also a Kenyan and have my democratic rights,” he said.
Deputy President William Ruto and his Kenya Kwanza Alliance brigade have repeatedly branded Raila a State project, and have sought to associate the former prime minister with Jubilee failures. The narrative has in the past forced Raila to defend himself, claiming that from time to time, he has been his own man.
The president’s absence from the campaigns leaves Dr Ruto and Mr Odinga to square it out in the remaining 81 days as they try to win the battlegrounds.