I’m not searching for a new political party, DP Gachagua says

Rigathi Gachagua.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

Photo credit: Jared Nytaya | Nation Media Group

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has denied claims of scouting for a new political party, terming reports “false and malicious”.

In a statement on Wednesday, May 29,  the DP dismissed a piece published in yesterday’s Daily Nation linking him to The New Democrats (TND) party.

“The one-sided false and concocted story is laced with innuendos and malice,” said Ms Njeri Rugene, head of the Deputy Presidential Communication Service.

According to the story, Mr Gachagua is seeking a party away from President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA).

The story was based on reports that emissaries of the DP approached TND as infighting in UDA escalates.

“To associate His Excellency the Deputy President with another political party, especially one with questionable association, can only have been done in bad faith, with the sole intention of undermining His Excellency’s role as the Deputy Party Leader of UDA,” Ms Rugene said.

Contacted on Wednesday, TND Secretary-General David Musembi insisted that allies of Mr Gachagua approached the party seeking a political pact.

“We have heard of this matter and when the allegations arose, Jimmy Kibaki – who was our deputy party leader – got discouraged about the issues and even told us he was retiring from politics,” Mr Musembi said.

He added that Mr Kibaki did not want to be linked to the conflict between President Ruto and his deputy.

Mr Musembi said the TND officials met the DP’s emissaries without authority from the party’s National Executive Council (NEC).

“The meeting took place in Kiambu. Unfortunately, what followed was Jimi’s exit,” he said.

In a statement last week, Mr Kibaki said it had become “apparent to me that I need to devote all my time to urgent family and business matters that require my full attention.”

“Consequently, and after a lot of thought, consideration and soul-searching, it is incumbent upon me to tender my immediate resignation as the TND Deputy Party Leader. This is not an easy decision, but I feel it is one I must make. I would like to wish the TND Family all the very best in the future, and wish them every success as they continue to build the party,” he said in the letter.

 Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu said her office has been in back-and-forth communication with TND about proposed changes in the party’s leadership. She added that the party is also seeking to make changes in other positions besides Mr Kibaki’s post.

Ms Nderitu, however, refused to disclose the names submitted to her office until they are gazetted.

“Once we are done with paperwork, we will issue a gazette notice to communicate the changes officially,” she said.

In a statement to the Daily Nation, Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga said President Ruto risks losing the support he enjoys from Mt Kenya should he shortchange the DP.

“All I can say is that the Mountain politics is unique. The Mountain is brought together by threats to its welfare or betrayal of whatever kind. Nobody installs leaders for the Mountain,” the governor said.

“Unlike other regions, the Mountain is fairly independent in actions and decision-making. In the last election, for instance, the Mountain walked away from its own and chose to be with the current President despite him being from elsewhere.”

This is despite frantic efforts by President Uhuru to bring the mountain to his side,” said Mr Kahiga.

The attempts at fighting the DP, he said, will ultimately bring the mountain region together and keep central Kenya voters solidly behind Mr Gachagua.

“Betrayal is sacrilegious for the mountain. This is the sole reason the mountain stood with President Ruto. It was because President Uhuru betrayed him despite the mountain knowing very well that President Ruto had brought fewer votes to their win.

 “DP Rigathi Gachagua is a battle-hardened political soldier and his ability to withstand relentless attacks shall be proven in the days to come.”

The vocal Governor noted that the DP was not under any sponsor politically or financially.

 “He is his own man with the mountain behind him. He survived the Kibicho torture and arrests to become DP. He will survive this too and come out stronger. The mountain pledges loyalty to only one leader at a time. Anyone from the mountain threatening DP is branded a collaborator, a betrayer and a gakunia being used to fight our son.”