Uhuru Kenyatta now has his own political party, but any ambition to become president like his father before him could be thwarted by a trial at the International Criminal Court.
Uhuru Kenyatta left the Kenya African National Union (KANU) founded by his father and Kenya’s first post-independence President Jomo Kenyatta, promising that his new party would scuttle the belief that politicians were bigger than the party ideologies.
He said a government under his new party The National Alliance (TNA) would take responsibility and be accountable to all its actions.
“The National Alliance is eager and willing to work and even merge with other like-minded parties,” he added.
The historic launch comes three weeks before the International Criminal Court sets a trial date for Uhuru Kenyatta and other three Kenyans accused of masterminding the violence after the election in late 2007 that resulted in the the death of 1300 people.
In Kenya, people have expressed mixed reactions following the launch with some openly supporting the newborn party, while others condemn Uhuru’s move as a betrayal of KANU, a party he served as its national chairman.
Other Kenyans believe Kenyatta will just simply fail to wrest power from incumbent President Kibaki and his influential Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
“I don’t think the launching of the party is a threat to Mr. Raila Odinga in any way," said Manoa Kuria, a Nairobi businessman. ”Kenyans have now become politically grown-up I think Kenyans are wise enough to make their own proper decisions as to whom they want in the next election,” he added
Clash of the generations
In the 2002 elections, Kenyatta contested the presidential election as a KANU candidate, but lost to President Mwai Kibaki. At the weekend launch, he deployed giant state-of-art satellite screens in various parts of the country to promote the National Alliance as the young people’s party that could no longer settle for mediocrity and the barren promises made by the current leadership.
Introducing Kenyatta at the launch, Kenya’s Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa, a member of the younger generation if not a member of TNA, said,” the mission of Uhuru is to free this nation of the evils of tribalism as we transit from the analogue technology to the digital technology." Digital technology in this context is a reference to Kenya's dot com generation.
Uhuru and the International Criminal Court
Political Analyst Martin Oloo observes that Uhuru’s launch of the new party is another burden on Kenya’s political process and a way of diverting the attention of International Criminal Court.
He also notes that by the rallying the youth behind himself, Kenyatta is just changing his image while offering nothing new to ordinary Kenyans.
Agina Ojwang, one of Kenya’s lawyers and expert on political issues in East Africa, believes that the launch of Uhuru Kenyatta's presidential campaign will not have an impact on the impending trial in the Hague, because the judges will be guided by the evidence adduced before them of what happened at the time of the alleged offences.
Ruuing for safety during the street violence after the 2007 elections
Politicians and civil society groups have been pushing for reconciliation in the lengthy aftermath of the 2007 post-election violence, but have so far met with only limited success.
Author: James Shimanyula/im
Editor: Mark Caldwell