President Ruto bans MP caucuses in bid to prevent fallout in Kenya Kwanza

President William Ruto addresses the 13th Parliament.

President William Ruto addresses the 13th Parliament on September 29, 2022. President William Ruto has moved to avert a fallout in his Kenya Kwanza Alliance by banning regional caucuses in Parliament that were reportedly inflaming tensions within the ruling coalition.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto has moved to avert a fallout in his Kenya Kwanza Alliance by banning regional caucuses in Parliament that were reportedly inflaming tensions within the ruling coalition.

The move, Nation understands, could also be aimed at containing factions from Mt Kenya and Western regions that were coalescing around Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi.

Dr Ruto has asked MPs to channel their grievances through the parliamentary leadership in efforts to quell a simmering rebellion against National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah and Majority Whip Sylvanus Osoro.

Multiple sources within the President’s inner circle told Nation Dr Ruto banned the caucuses after tensions boiled over during East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) elections last December.

Defiant Mt Kenya leaders voted for youthful United Democratic Alliance (UDA) politician Mwangi Maina and former Igembe Central MP Cyprian Kubai Iringo at the expense of former United Republican Party (URP) secretary-general Fred Muteti, who had been endorsed following a Parliamentary Group meeting chaired by the President at State House in Nairobi.


Rebellious ruling coalition MPs, particularly from Mt Kenya, also helped Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party’s Kanini Kega, a former Kieni MP who is also the Jubilee Party Director of Elections, secure the Eala slot in a show of defiance.

During the same period, youthful MPs from President Ruto’s Rift Valley turf had ganged up against Mr Ichung’wah and Mr Osoro.

A Rift Valley MP, who asked not to be named, told Nation the move could be aimed at ensuring that the Head of State controlled the messaging by the MPs, amid fears that speaking at cross-purposes was exposing him to ridicule and giving fodder to the Raila Odinga-led opposition.

President William Ruto, his deputy Rigathi Gachagua and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi at the Inaugural Retreat for Cabinet and Senior Ranks of the Executive at Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club in Nyeri County on January 7, 2023.

Mt Kenya leaders who spoke to Nation admitted that the President has banned caucuses but pushed back on reports it was aimed at taming Mr Gachagua who is out to unite the region behind him.

“When the President asked us to shun regional caucuses, it was not that he was reading another signal that there is a problem. He only underscored the need of not preaching tribalism. He wants us to coalesce as Kenya Kwanza lawmakers and not as regions,” said Mathira MP Eric Wamumbi.

Kieni MP Njoroge Wainaina said the region will only meet to strategise on how to tackle alcohol abuse in Mt Kenya.

“The President asked us not to coalesce around regions because it’s not healthy for national cohesion and integration. There’s no rift between the two leaders,” said Mr Wainaina.

The disbandment of the regional caucuses has seen Rift Valley MPs, who had revolted against Mr Ichung’wah and Mr Osoro, tone down their vitriol.

Arrogance claims

Most of the first-term MPs from President Ruto’s backyard had accused Mr Ichung’wah and Mr Osoro of arrogance and failing to address their grievances, something which prompted the President to silence the dissidents.

“There was some disquiet in the coalition and that made us reject Kimani Ichungwah’s choice during the Eala elections. We felt that he is arrogant and does not listen to us. Our issues have not been represented well,” said a Rift Valley MP.

At the beginning of the disquiet, UDA chairman Johnson Muthama said it was not easy to satisfy everyone when in leadership and those complaining about Mr Ichung’wah’s leadership style were just exercising their democratic rights.

William Ruto Deputy Rigathi Gachagua Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi

President William Ruto (centre) with Deputy Rigathi Gachagua (left) and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi during the senior government officials retreat at Mount Kenya Safari Club in Nanyuki on January 5, 2023. 

Photo credit: James Murimi | Nation Media Group

At least two MPs who had issues told Nation their difference with Mr Ichung’wah and Mr Osoro have been resolved and, in a move to appease the rebels, some of the aggrieved leaders had accompanied Dr Ruto to the US.

“Modalities have been put in place to address the contentious issues in the coalition. As one of those who had issues with the House leadership, I am in the President’s entourage,” said another MP.

Mt Kenya voted solidly for the Ruto-Gachagua ticket and gave Kenya Kwanza a virtual clean sweep of all electoral seats in the region, a development the Deputy President is keen to build on to consolidate his position as the region’s political supremo.

“The issue of numbers comes into play and, at some point during campaigns, Gachagua was very clear when he said this is a government of shares. If you want to be a shareholder, you must invest more. Apparently, Mt Kenya voted to the last man and they may rightfully want to demand the extra political investment,” said Prof Masibo Lumala of Moi University. 

He added: “In politics, it is about positioning oneself. As it emerges, Ruto started early and won the presidency. It would not be surprising to find other people realising that you can actually go against your boss and campaign and make an impact. By 2027 you go a different way and you win an election. There’s a possibility that we can see a replay of what took place between 2017 and 2022.”