Two men both accused of crimes against humanity and once bitter enemies have come together to run for president and Deputy President in Kenya.
Deputy Premier Uhuru Kenyatta wants the top job while William Ruto – a former minister is running for the deputy slot.
This is a coalition of convenience for both men, however with huge contradictions.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague accuses them of killing people from each other’s tribes.
Uhuru Kenyatta belongs to the Kikuyu – Kenya’s largest tribe… while William Ruto is from the Kalenjin, the third most populous. And they are not hiding the fact that this is a political marriage of their two traditionally hostile communities.
“We are telling those who doubt that Kikuyus and Kalenjins can work together that this time round they will. Our coalition will be in power come next year”, William Ruto declared at a rally in Nakuru town in the country’s expansive Rift Valley region.
Kenyatta and Ruto were on opposite sides in the 2007 election.
Kenyatta backed President Mwai Kibaki, while Ruto was part of Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s alliance that was trying to push the president out of office.
Odinga at the time said there had been vote rigging which led to rioting that quickly turned into ethnic killings of members of Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe, followed by reprisal attacks against Kalenjins.
It is a mutual rivalry with Odinga and the charges they face at the Hague that mainly brings these unlikely partners together. Odinga has said Kenya must abide by the ICC.
Being the son of Kenya’s founding President Mzee Jommo Kenyatta whose family is one of Africa’s richest Uhuru has the financial muscle to power a huge campaign machine. But he will need more than his wealth to secure the Presidency.
There are now growing murmurs of discontent with Uhuru and Ruto’s candidature for the two most powerful jobs in the land.
And it’s their sheer sense of entitlement that has many Kenyans concerned.
“The bone of contention is and has always been, can you really lead the same humanity that you are accused of having committed crimes against” says Dr Adams Oloo a political analyst in Nairobi.
The two unlikely partners are brought together by their rivalry against the current Prime Minister who remains their most formidable challenger in the political contest.
They also have in common the war crime charges they face at the ICC.
They deny the ICC charges and say the elections in March next year are a referendum on the ICC.
“For the international community, we as Kenyans have gone through difficult times but we also have our own solutions….we have a new constitutional dispensation….but we demand respect as citizens of this nation.
Don’t impose your thoughts and ideas on the people of Kenya” declared Uhuru.
The duo received a boost last week after a court petition on whether they are eligible to run was dropped.
In a deeply divided country where voting has always been along tribal lines, Uhuru and Ruto now have a head-start in Kenya’s leadership contest. Where they will lead it is what has many people worried.