Residents and leaders in Mt Kenya region yesterday expressed mixed reactions after Kenya Kwanza Alliance presidential flagbearer, Deputy President William Ruto, appointed Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua to be his running mate in the August 9 General Election.
While people in Nyeri exploded with jubilation and excitement, residents of Tharaka Nithi and Kirinyaga counties expressed dissatisfaction after Senator Kithure Kindiki and Governor Anne Waiguru, missed out on the important slot.
It was largely expected that Prof Kindiki would be named the running mate, with residents in his home county of Tharaka Nithi lamenting that they had been given a raw deal.
In Mr Gachagua’s Mathira hometown in Nyeri County, residents broke out in song and dance, barricading the Nyeri-Nairobi highway where they were joined by aspirants vying for various posts under Dr Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA).A local, Ms Martha Wanjiru, expressed gratitude that the DP had settled on Mr Gachagua, who has proved himself loyal to the party. Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga vowed to rally locals to support the alliance.
“We will make sure that every voter supports the bottom-up economics agenda,” he added.
This contrasted the reaction in Prof Kindiki’s backyard where residents expressed shock at the choice of Mr Gachagua.
Angry residents vowed to vote for Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party presidential candidate, Mr Raila Odinga.
Former Tharaka Nithi Governor Samuel Ragwa who is vying for the Senate seat as an independent candidate, said it was wrong for DP Ruto to ask Kindiki to shelve his gubernatorial interest only to decline to pick him.
“Ruto asked Prof Kindiki to drop his gubernatorial bid and join him in the national politics only to frustrate him,” said Mr Ragwa.
However, Meru Senator Mithika Linturi lauded the DP’s choice, saying “[Mr Gachagua] is one of our own in Mt Kenya region.”
Murang'a governor Mwangi wa Iria said: “We now have to remain sober and debate our future especially on how best we will remain relevant in the country’s power matrix.”
In Kirinyaga County, residents protested that Governor Waiguru should have been appointed and accused Dr Ruto of betraying the region.
“We wanted Dr Ruto to pick our daughter as his running mate but he has let us down,” Mr John Njoroge, a resident, said.
Locals described Ms Waiguru as a very popular and hard-working leader who would have provided Dr Ruto a huge chunk of the Mt Kenya vote. Mr Charles Kaberia said the fact that Prof Kindiki was missing in the unveiling of the running mate indicated that all was not well.
“We are now waiting for Prof Kindiki to give us direction. He was the most qualified and made several sacrifices including losing his deputy Speaker position for supporting the DP,” he said.
Reporting by Gitonga Marete, George Munene, David Muchui, Alex Njeru, Mwangi Muiruri and Irene Mugo