Major showdowns are looming for United Democratic Alliance (UDA) tickets in Mt Kenya, with both incumbents and aspirants eyeing the party’s flag in the 2022 polls.
The stakes are so high that new entrants have expressed frustration and some are bolting out, claiming some politicians have “ring fenced” UDA and blocked them from accessing Dr Ruto.
Former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu and Kirinyaga County boss Anne Waiguru are the latest politicians to express interest in the party. However, it will not be a walk in the park for the newcomers as they have to face off with UDA die-hards.
In Kirinyaga, Ms Waiguru will have to battle it out with her bitter rival, Woman Representative Purity Ngirici, who has already declared she will vie for the governor seat on UDA. Ms Ngirici joined UDA early and has been selling it across the region.
Immediately Ms Waiguru expressed interest in UDA, Ms Ngirici welcomed her with political gloves off. “Ehe!, Kwani ni kesho? Karibu nominations,” she tweeted on September 8. On Wednesday, she added: “We don't fear Waiguru. Let her come and we shall meet at the ballot.”
In Kiambu, Mr Waititu, who was impeached for corruption and conflict of interest, last weekend said he would seek re-election on a UDA ticket, the same one Woman Rep Gathoni Wa Muchomba is targeting.
The same scenario is playing out in Laikipia County where UDA will have a hard time unveiling candidates for the gubernatorial and parliamentary seats. The gubernatorial seat has attracted Laikipia West MP Patrick Mariru, who will have to face off with former governor Joshua Irungu in the nominations. The first time MP is an ardent supporter of the DP.
The Laikipia senatorial seat has attracted two candidates who are eyeing the UDA ticket – incumbent John Kinyua and Ms Jane Putunoi, a former county executive. Laikipia East MP Amin Deddy Mohamed is also another new entrant in UDA who will have to battle it out with his predecessor Mutahi Kimaru and current Laikipia Woman Rep Catherine Waruguru.
“I currently belong to the Jubilee Party. However, after much consideration and soul searching, it will be disastrous of me not to give directions to my honourable constituents who have been patiently waiting for ‘white smoke’ from our house,” Mr Deddy said.
The UDA tickets in Meru County are apparently “locked in” by incumbents, most of whom have declared they will defend their seats. Mithika Linturi (senator), Kirima Ngucine (Imenti Central) John Paul Mwirigi (Igembe South), Kubai Kiringo (Igembe Central), Mugambi Rindikiri (Buuri), John Mutunga (Tigania West) and Gchunge Kabeabea (Tigania East) are all Dr Ruto’s supporters. Only Rahim Dawood (Imenti North) and Maoka Maore (Igembe North) have not stated the party tickets on which they will run.
Imenti South MP Kathuri Murungi who has been fence-sitting yesterday said he would defend his seat on an UDA ticket.
However, in Tharaka-Nithi County, most of the politicians who had expressed interest in UDA tickets bolted, fearing the nominations would not be fair.
Mr Muthomi Micheni, who wants to be Chuka/Igambang’ombe MP, joined The Service Party even after going around selling UDA during its early stages. He said the current MP, Patrick Munene, was already boasting that he was one of the founders of the UDA party and that he would get a direct ticket.
“I will support Dr Ruto for the presidency while in a friendly party and not UDA because I can’t believe it will have fair nominations,” said Mr Mucheni.
Mr Sabastian Mwangangi who is the main competitor of Tharaka MP Gitonga Murugara claims that UDA has been owned by incumbents who have gone to the extent of personalising DP Ruto and blocking others from accessing him.
Reports by Gitonga Marete, George Munene, James Murimi, Simon Ciuri and Alex Njeru