Azimio defectors meet William Ruto, pledge support

Gema Cultural Association executive council members.

Gema Cultural Association executive council members during a press conference at Thiiri Centre in Meru on September 9, 2022. 

Photo credit: David Muchui | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Post-election Kisii leaders have formed Taifa Democratic Coalition to work with Ruto.
  • Former Kisii governor James Ongwae and businessman Peter Munga are among the latest people to cross from Raila camp to Ruto’s side.

A former governor and wealthy businessman from Mt Kenya have ditched Raila Odinga's Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition and joined President-elect William Ruto's camp.

Kisii ex-governor James Ongwae and a host of other politicians from the region who lost in the August 9 elections joined Kenya Kwanza yesterday. 

The leaders from Kisii and Nyamira counties had a meeting with Dr Ruto at his Karen home yesterday morning in what they said is a beginning of a new partnership with the new government. 

Mr Ongwae, former Transport CAS Chris Obure, ex-Kisii Woman rep Janet Ong’era, ex-MPs Jimmy Angwenyi (Kitutu Chache North),  Richard Tong'i (Nyaribari Chache),  Ben Momanyi (Borabu), Manson Nyamweya (South Mugirango) and Zadock Ogutu (Bomachoge Borabu) attended the meeting. 

The Abagusii council of elders chairman Araka Matundura was also present. 

Mr Matundura said they were 10 leaders and took about 15 minutes with Dr Ruto. 

"We did not talk much, but we congratulated him for his victory and asked him to work with the Abagusii community," said Mr Matundura, adding that they will have further discussions with Dr Ruto once he has taken the oath of office. 

"We are supporting him 100 per cent," said Mr Tong'i. 

ODM National Treasurer Timothy Bosire while regretting the move told them to respect and entrench public institutions. 

William Ruto

President-elect William Ruto meets Gusii leaders who decamped from Azimio la Umoja Coalition to Kenya Kwanza at his Karen residence on September 9, 2022.

Photo credit: Pool

"We are in the process of coming to terms and taking stock of what happened. We are in a democratic setup and we must safeguard public institutions," said Mr Bosire. 

He added, "It's too soon to talk about those issues. If we are developing society, we don't go for quick needs. We should make decisions constructively, not being opportunistic.”

Before the elections, there were accusations that some of the Gusii Azimio leaders were silently campaigning for the Kenya Kwanza Alliance at both the national and county level. 

At one time, Kisii governor Simba Arati and Senator Richard Onyonka told Mr Odinga to look into the issue, but the former premier did not address it. 

The leaders formed the Taifa Democratic Coalition (TDC).

TCD leader, Mr Nyamweya, said the coalition has already submitted its post-election agreement to the Registrar of Political parties Ms Ann Nderitu.

Peaceful transition

In Meru, the Gema Cultural Association (GCA) welcomed the election of DP Ruto as president and lauded President Uhuru Kenyatta for steering the country through a peaceful election.

Chairman Lawi Imathiu said the handshake between President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga played a big role in ensuring a peaceful election.

“On behalf of the Gema people, we take this opportunity to congratulate the president-elect and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua for their election to the presidency,” Rev Imathiu said during a press conference at Thiiri Centre in Meru.

He was flanked by the association’s Treasurer Peter Munga, co-chairman Peter Njenga, former CS Sicily Kariuki and Mr George Muhoho, among others.

They are also members of the Mt Kenya Foundation, which had backed Mr Odinga for the top job.

Rev Imathiu appealed to the president-elect to ensure equitable distribution of national resources and address the pressing issues of the day.

President-Elect William Ruto welcomes the Movement for Democracy and Growth led by the Party leader David Ochieng.

President-Elect William Ruto welcomes the Movement for Democracy and Growth led by the Party leader David Ochieng (MP Ugenya) into the Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

Photo credit: DPPS

“We have always maintained that we would support whoever is elected by Kenyans. As a father would do, we expect the president-elect will develop the country equally. All elected leaders should address the issues of drought and high cost of living that are affecting Kenyans,” he said.

They said that President Kenyatta’s role in a peaceful transition cannot be wished away and lauded Kenyans for maintaining peace during the electioneering period.

The Gema chairman noted that the country has broken a long-standing tradition of violent elections.

“We acknowledge that it is the handshake of 2012 and 2018 which is the foundation of the peace that we currently enjoy.

During President Kenyatta’s tenure, Kenya has made tremendous development across all sectors and transitioned into devolution,” the Gema chairman said.

He added, “President Kenyatta will remain a beacon of peace and unity in our country and Africa.”

They also commended Mr Odinga and his running mate Martha Karua for accepting the verdict of the supreme court.

“We appreciate their immense contribution to the democratisation process of this country,” Rev Imathiu said.

By Ruth Mbula, David Muchu and June [email protected]