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Will Ruto pull Matiba-like mammoth crowd in Nairobi on return from abroad?

Will Ruto pull Matiba-like mammoth crowd in Nairobi on return from abroad?

By Correspondent

One tactic presidential aspirants pull to scare their opponents is large crowds in their rallies.

Indeed, a few months before the 1992 multiparty general election in Kenya, then the Ford-Asili presidential aspirant, Kenneth Stanley Njindo Matiba (pictured) returned home from Britain where he had been undergoing treatment for a stroke he suffered while in detention.

On landing at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Matiba was overwhelmed by the sea of humanity who had thronged the airport and the route his motorcade followed from the airport to the city centre.

The huge crowd was the envy of any presidential candidate or even a sitting president, then Daniel arap Moi.

Matiba went on to contest the presidency but came second to Moi.

Come 2002 when the National Rainbow Coalition presidential candidate Mwai Kibaki returned home from Britain where he had gone for treatment for injuries sustained in a road accident during his campaign in Machakos.

The kind of reception Kibaki received at the airport was enough to intimidate his opponents, who were then Uhuru Kenyatta, Simeon Nyachae and James Orengo, among other minnows.

 The airport and his route into the city centre were overflowing with thousands of his enthusiastic supporters.

Kibaki went on to clinch the presidency by beating Kanu’s candidate, Uhuru.

Again, during the 2007 presidential election, one of the Orange Democratic Movement strategies whose presidential candidate was Raila Odinga was to try and replay the feat of the Matiba and Kibaki homecoming.

Titled "The Grand Entrance" in their strategy paper, the plan said, "As earlier agreed, in order that our candidate's campaigns commence with impact, it is necessary that he exits Kenya to lay foundation for a grand homecoming similar to Matiba's 1992 and Kibaki's 2002. Whereas the party has identified areas such as Nigeria and the Middle East as regions of interest, it is recommended that the candidate focus on Europe and the United States (where the diaspora is active) for this purpose. A lengthy absence will starve the country of Raila and stimulate an outpouring of adoration that will take us to victory.

Raila went on to contest the presidency but lost to Kibaki.

Although this strategy only worked for Kibaki,

Deputy President William Ruto is keen to use it.

The strategy is still popular in Kenya Kwanza that brings together Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance, Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress and Moses Wetangula’s Ford-Knya.

By having Ruto and Mudavadi  tour Britain and the United States and then come back after 10 days, their strategists hope they will attract thousands of hustlers to welcome them on jetting back.

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