Mt Kenya rebellion hits top gear with MPs flooding Ruto's camp

William Ruto and Gathoni Wamuchomba

Kiambu Woman Representative Gathoni Wamuchomba and Deputy President William Ruto at his Karen office in Nairobi on June 23, 2012. Several other lawmakers visited the DP. 

Photo credit: DPPS

What you need to know:

  • Kiambu Woman Representative Wamuchomba and Githunguri MP Kago say scales have fallen from their eyes.
  • Fleeing lawmakers claim many will follow them to Tangatanga in coming months.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is increasingly being deserted by his allies in Mt Kenya, complicating his succession game plan.

Four MPs allied to the President’s Kieleweke wing of the ruling Jubilee Party announced their defection to Deputy President William Ruto’s camp even as reports indicated another five are expected to take a similar action later in the week. 

Kiambu Woman Representative Gathoni Wamuchomba and Githunguri MP Gabriel Kago yesterday shifted allegiance to Dr Ruto’s DP’s Tangatanga faction, as did Nakuru East’s David Gikaria and Samuel Gachobe of Subukia. 

The DP met Ms Wamuchomba and Mr Kago at his Karen residence after an earlier meeting with the other two. 

Ms Wamuchomba said she had been keeping a low profile to assess the mood of Mt Kenya voters “and I can tell you that the ground has shifted and I am where I was all along”.

She told the Daily Nation that many other MPs would join Dr Ruto in the coming months.

Mr Gikaria said he was compelled to shift loyalty to the DP by voters.

“When the ground speaks, there is very little a politician can do but submit. I will do what my people say. I cannot force them to belong to a wing,” he said.

Open rebellion

Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata, who was ousted as Senate Majority Whip and immediately joined the DP’s team, said yesterday’s events “are just the beginning”.

“We have been saying that a dozen Cabinet Secretaries, MPs in their tens and governors are buying time before crossing over,” Mr Kang’ata said.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, whose installation as Mt Kenya spokesman split the region, recently said Mr Kenyatta’s allies are abandoning him.

“It is worrying to witness open rebellion and disrespect for the President and his leadership in Mt Kenya. I have taken the decision to come to his aid,” Mr Muturi said in Murang’a county on Sunday.

The Speaker added that the President should not be exposed to public ridicule “and those of us who have stood by Uhuru for long will stick out our necks for him”.

Among the issues exposing President Kenyatta to political barbs are his perceived choice of a successor, the region’s preferred political vehicle for the election in 2022 and utterances by some of his loyalists.

On November 2, 2018, while in Nyeri, the President said his 2022 pick would shock the region. 

And during the funeral of Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi’s mother in Vihiga on January 5, Mr Kenyatta said he should be succeeded by someone from outside the Agikuyu and Kalenjin communities, arguing that two ethnic groups have already produced presidents.

The rebellion was in part stoked by remarks by the President’s allies like Nominated MP Maina Kamanda and Jubilee Vice-Chairman David Murathe that he (Mr Kenyatta) prefers Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga to succeed him. 

Presidential candidate

Ironically, it was former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth – who is touted as a possible running mate of Mr Odinga – that fired the first shot.

“No law prohibits a Kikuyu from contesting the presidency in 2022,” Mr Kenneth said. 

“There is no way a big river (Mt Kenya’s votes) can drain into tributaries. It should be vice versa.”

Kangema MP Muturi Kigano says the rebellion is “akin to a woman declaring to her children that they have another father while their biological one is still living with them”.

The rebellion peaked in recent weeks when governors Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a), Ndiritu Muriithi (Laikipia), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru), Martin Wambora (Embu), Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua) and Nyeri’s Mutahi Kahiga met in Nyeri county and announced the region would go demand a presidential candidate in the next election.

Almost all Mt Kenya county bosses have been in the Kieleweke wing of Jubilee, which supports the President’s March 9, 2018 handshake with Mr Odinga. 

Jubilee and ODM are in talks to form a coalition. 

According to political analyst Ngugi Njoroge, President Kenyatta “made for himself a bed of nails and he has no choice but to lie in it”. 

“In essence, the President is being paid in kind as he appears to have run away from his supporters,” he said. 

At stake are Mr Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda, legacy and succession game plan, even though some government officials have been assuring the public that it is well with the president’s projects.

“The Big Four and the legacy aspect of President Kenyatta’s agenda are on course,” Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said recently. 

Mr Munya said once the 2021/22 financial year budget is implemented, it would shape the legacy and the Big Four projects.

Controversial letter

Mr Odinga’s point man in Mt Kenya, Kamau Mweha, said plans to have the ODM leader succeed Mr Kenyatta are on course.

“I urge my Mt Kenya compatriots to put their bets on Mr Odinga. They should be more worried about their share in his government,” Mr Mweha said. 

The stand is supported by former Maragua MP Elias Mbau.

“An Odinga presidency supported by Mr Kenyatta is real and practically being implemented,” Mr Mbau said.

Dr Ruto has been the greatest beneficiary of the rebellion.

The President cannot kick his deputy out of government as the Constitution does not allow it. 

President Kenyatta has in recent weeks said some of his allies betrayed him.

“I made them who they are but they are fighting me,” he said.

One surprise flight from the President’s wing is Mr Kang’ata, whose journey to the DP’s side started with a controversial letter to Mr Kenyatta on December 30, telling him that the Building Bridges Initiative would fail in Mt Kenya and that the rating of the government was at its lowest. 

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