Former Kieni MP Kanini Kega, one of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition political bigwigs in Mt Kenya, has described Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua as the senior-most politician from the region.
Mr Kega, who lost his bid to retain the Kieni parliamentary seat in the August polls but was endorsed by Parliament for a seat in the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala), asked all leaders from the region to rally behind Mr Gachagua.
Mr Kega’s assertion in a telephone interview with Nation.Africa comes as the Azimio brigade from the voter-rich region appeared to be charting a new political path after losing in the polls.
Mr Gachagua, who said he rallied Mt Kenya MPs to vote for Mr Kega for the EALA seat and wants to woo other Azimio top guns from the region to his camp by December 31, has been criss-crossing the region urging unity. The DP is angling to replace former President Uhuru Kenyatta as Mt Kenya’s political kingpin.
On Wednesday, Mr Kega said Mr Gachagua is indisputably the new senior-most politician in Central Kenya and called on all leaders from the region, irrespective of their political stand, to rally behind him to ensure local interests are catered for by the government.
He thanked Mr Gachagua for supporting his candidacy for the EALA seat in a hotly contested election that split MPs from the region.
“It is not in contention on who is the senior-most politician in government from Central Kenya. I thank Rigathi because he showed leadership when he realised that the mountain was being sidelined in EALA elections and supported my candidature. It is through his support that the region got two positions in EALA,” Mr Kega said.
Mr Kega, the Jubilee Party director of elections, said the DP can bring together the region’s leaders.
“There is no question about him being the senior-most politician because he holds the second position in government despite the fact that we had political differences. He is in a position of influence,” he said.
“We should all work together with him on issues of national interest. I will work with Gachagua but within my political party.”
The DP recently revealed that he had rallied Kenya Kwanza lawmakers from the region to vote for Mr Kega, who was being backed by Azimio.
The move was seen as a scheme to stamp his authority in the region.
“I spoke to the leaders from the mountain. I told them this Kanini Kega was insulting me and President William Ruto (but) they should vote for him. Did they or did they not vote for him? That's the new Kenya we want,” Mr Gachagua said last Friday during a funeral service in Chuka, Tharaka Nithi County.
In a meeting chaired by President Ruto at the State House in Nairobi last Wednesday, Kenya Kwanza chose former Mombasa senator Hassan Omar, ex-nominated MP David Sankok, ex-Nandi woman representative Zipporah Kering, ex-nominated senator Falhadha Iman Dekow, and former United Republican Party (URP) secretary-general Fred Muteti as their preferred line-up.
By the end of the voting, those chosen were Mr Omar, Ms Kering, Mr Sankok, Mwangi Maina, and former Igembe Central MP Cyprian Kubai Iringo. But Ms Dekow replaced Mr Iringo due to gender.
Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga, a close ally of Mr Gachagua, on Wednesday said some 'individuals' close to President Ruto were fuelling discord among Central Kenya leaders over his relationship with Mr Gachagua.
Mr Kahiga has asked Nyeri residents to pray and support Mr Gachagua so that the DP and Dr Ruto can continue transforming the country's economy.
"When you hear the little noise, it is because there could be one or two people around [Dr Ruto] who are trying to portray a wrong picture of him,” Mr Kahiga said.
“But I want to tell you as I stand on this pulpit that when Dr William Samoei Ruto agrees with you on something, he fulfills it. He is a truthful man and we will continue supporting him."
The governor spoke at New Life Church in Nyeri during a service presided over by the DP’s wife, Pastor Dorcas Rigathi.
"To support [Dr Ruto] wholly, we must make our son [Mr Rigathi] very strong. In fact, when fire breaks out, it mostly lands on number two in office. I don't know whether you have realised that. Continue praying for him," Mr Kahiga said.
"We must stand with our brother, the Deputy President, and hold his hand firmly so that he can help his boss (Dr Ruto). Right now, as we speak, Rigathi is in charge of the country because his boss is in Korea serving Kenya. Let us not take this for granted and all of us have a role to play."
Governor Kahiga, who is serving his second term, has become a major defender of Mt Kenya interests and has warned that the region could rethink its stay in Kenya Kwanza if it is taken for granted.
He urged the church to pray for Dr Ruto and Mr Gachagua to propel the country to prosperity.
"You have seen how busy our Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and his boss William Ruto have been. We have a duty to stand with the two. William Ruto is a good man. He is a man of God," Mr Kahiga said.