Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki skipped Deputy Ruto’s event, which unveiled Rigathi Gachagua as the Kenya Kwanza running mate.
On Saturday Dr Ruto’s official residence in Karen became the theatre of a major daylong political standoff yesterday as the anticipated announcement of his running mate failed to materialise, exposing sharp divisions in the Kenya Kwanza camp.
The naming of a running mate that Dr Ruto, the coalition’s presidential aspirant under the UDA flag, had recently described as the “easiest” thing, ran into headwinds as the lawmakers from Mt Kenya split on whether to settle on Prof Kindiki or Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua.
Sources told the Sunday Nation that while Dr Ruto had no problem settling for Mr Gachagua, a majority of Mt Kenya legislators rooted for Prof Kindiki.
Alternatives to the two were also floated as compromise candidates to ease the standoff.
While unveiling Mr Gachagua, Dr Ruto praised Professor Kindiki, alluding to his absence without offering any explanation.
“I want to thank my lawyer and friend Abraham Kithure Kindiki who became the runner up. Even though the current senator of Tharaka Nithi is not here with us now, he brought a lot of passion to this contest, “Dr Ruto said.
Those who vouch for him say his cool, collected and soft-spoken mien will complement Dr Ruto’s forceful character and that he can be a pacifying figure in government.
They add that with his expertise in international law and his scholarship, Prof Kindiki would make a good diplomat as the country’s number two should the DP win.
Prof Kindiki, from Tharaka in the larger Meru region, was seen as an answer to the historical grievance within Mt Kenya East against their Mt Kenya West ‘cousins’.
The region, which has voted with their cousins in Central Kenya, have always complained they have long held the short end of the stick.
Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki described Prof Kindiki as a team player who does not hold grudges.
“He is not a pushover. He is a firm guy who speaks his mind. If he is not happy with something he will make it very clear,” Mr Njuki told the Nation, describing the senator as a team player who acts above board.
As majority leader, he gravitated towards DP Ruto and even those early years began entertaining the dream of being his running mate in the 2022 elections.
But then he faced a stiff re-election challenge after opponents painted him as “a Nairobi man who flew too high” (he had been a member of the ‘Sky Team’ that moved around in helicopters in the early years of the Kenyatta administration, bamboozling villagers in remote places), forcing him to change tack.