Deputy President William Ruto is facing a rebellion from his allies in Kenya Kwanza as the fight to control counties and assemblies in Mt Kenya heats up.
Chama Cha Kazi party leader Moses Kuria and Tujibebe Wakenya chairman William Kabogo, who are members of Mr Ruto’s coalition, have decided to boycott UDA rallies.
The Service Party of Kenya leader Mwangi Kiunjuri and Farmers Party of Kenya’s Irungu Nyakera yesterday also called for crisis talks in the coalition after accusing UDA of undermining leaders from the region.
Both Mr Kabogo and Mr Kuria have written to DP Ruto and withdrew their support to UDA until their grievances are addressed.
''It is with this background that day one of the Mount Kenya Express Caravan took place in Limuru,Lari and Githunguri constituencies. The bitter exchange between Senator Wamatangi and Mr Kabogo was precipitated by the hard-line UDA position in dealing with the Kenya Kwanza Alliance allies.
Following the unfortunate incident on June 15, the Tujibebe Wakenya and Chama Cha Kazi parties have decided to pull out of the UDA caravans as they are clearly set up to embarrass and demonise the coalition,'' reads a joint letter written by Chama Cha Kazi secretary-general James Nage and his counterpart from Tujibebe Wakenya Gathii Irungu copied to ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula.
Read More: Kabogo, Kuria boycott Gachagua Kiambu rally
Mr Kabogo told supporters that the biggest threat to UDA is Mr Gachagua, who he termed as a dictator and untrustworthy.
“I had opposed the choice of Gachagua as Ruto running mate because he is a dictator. I have severally told Ruto that he will lose more votes because of Mr Gachagua,” Mr Kabogo said in Thika.
Yesterday, a campaign rally in Thika, Kiambu County, organised by Mr Gachagua turned rowdy when youths shouted Mr Kabogo’s name. They were quickly repulsed by pro-UDA youths.
“Those causing problems can convene their meetings and push their agenda,” he said. Mr Wamatangi also said Mr Kabogo and Mr Kuria were trouble-makers, who did not have the Kenya Kwanza spirit at heart.
Mr Nyakera told the Nation that despite supporting the candidacy of DP Ruto, his party is mistreating them.
“We are unhappy about how UDA aspirants are treating the other KKA parties. We are all fully behind DP Ruto but are at loggerheads with UDA aspirants. The way forward is for the DP to call a meeting of KKA principals to resolve the issues,” said Mr Nyakera.
"The UDA party, which Dr Ruto belongs to, is treating the rest of us in utter contempt. Just when we are sure that we have found the magic of cohesion, the UDA luminaries come out and poison the serenity with uncalled-for hostility against partners," he added.
The fight to win seats in Mt Kenya is being fuelled by agreements in Kenya Kwanza which stipulate that positions in government will be shared based on the number of seats won by individual parties, if the outfit wins the August polls.
The clause in the agreement, which was deposited by the Registrar of Political Parties, ties the fortunes of small parties to the number of seats in the Senate, National Assembly, Council of Governors (CoG) and county assemblies.
However, the clause does not apply to the big three – UDA, ANC and Ford Kenya.
The ramification of this is that the small outfits have to work extra hard to reap from the spoils of the vote, a situation that is causing friction.
Political pundits argue that the clause remains a real test for them in the August polls on whether they can put up a spirited battle to beat bigwigs.
This is because a win or a loss by any of the parties could either make or break them, depending on how well or badly they perform in the upcoming elections.
Prof Masibo Lumala of Moi University says the agreement risks punishing those deemed as non-performers, and throwing most of the entities into political oblivion since those who would not have won any seat will have no voice.
“When you have small parties joining you, it kind of bolsters the public image that this alliance is now receiving defectors from the other side and this is a political strategy. That particular clause is put deliberately to tell someone that when elections are over and the coalition wins and you have one person elected, you have no voice. You cannot make any significant demand on anything when your overall contribution is just one percent,” Prof Lumala said.
The UDA party is also facing headwinds due to defections of some of its grassroots coordinators in Mt Kenya. Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi welcomed 50 coordinators and mobilisers who decamped from DP Ruto’s UDA wing to support Mr Odinga’s candidature.