President Ruto tightens grip on UDA ahead of 2027, announces national elections

Ruto in Nyeri

President William Ruto addresses wananchi in Nyeri town moments after opening UDA regional office in the town on September 9, 2023. 

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto has started tightening his grip on his party – the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) – ahead of the 2027 General Election.

The President, who is the leader of the ruling party, announced on Saturday that the party will hold its nationwide elections in December this year to bring in officials who will make the party more vibrant.

Dr Ruto argues that the elections will entrench democracy and eradicate tribal ethnicity in the party.

“This is the party that runs the government and that is why I’m announcing here in Nyeri to all members across the country that the elections will be held in December. We will announce the timetable for the elections. We want to eradicate tribalism and ethnicity from the party and make this a national party that reflects leaders from all tribes in Kenya. We want to unite the country,” Dr Ruto said.

The Head of State, who was accompanied by his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua, was speaking at King'ong'o Estate in Nyeri town during the opening of the party's county headquarters.

The premises is the first office the party has opened in the counties by its leader.

“The owners of the party must decide on who will lead them. We will take the elections at the polling stations at the grassroots because our aim is to ensure that the party is an institution of governance,” Dr Ruto said.

Ruto in Nyeri

President William Ruto, his deputy Rigathi Gachagua among other leaders during the opening of  UDA regional office in Nyeri town on September 9, 2023.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

“If you want a leadership position in UDA, start preparing now by convincing members to elect you. Socialize yourself with the membership of the party. I want to make it clear that nobody will be given leadership positions in the boardrooms or any favour,” he added.

UDA secretary general Cleophas Malala said their aim was to consolidate the party's popularity nationwide ahead of 2027 and guarantee the president's re-election.

“We want to build this party to be the greatest party in the country so that by 2027, we will just place the portrait of the President on the ballot and have him re-elected. I am appealing to you to register as a member of UDA so that you can participate in this democratic process,” said Mr Malala.

But Nyeri Woman MP Rahab Mukami and Nyeri Town MP Maina Mathenge called on other constituent parties in the Kenya Kwanza coalition to unite and join the ruling party ahead of the 2027 general elections.

The lawmakers argue that once fully fledged, the party will consolidate President Ruto's re-election bid and guarantee his victory.

“In the next elections, we want to move together as one big party. We want the other parties under the Kenya Kwanza Alliance to fold and join UDA so that we can walk together. This will be the party to watch in 2027,” Ms Mukami said.

On Friday, Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa told Ford Kenya party leader Moses Wetang’ula and Amani National Congress (ANC) Musalia Mudavadi not to heed to calls to fold their parties and join UDA.

Mr Malala is pushing for the two parties, which have a solid base in Western Kenya, to fold and join President Ruto’s UDA party.

“UDA Secretary General Cleophas Malala should stop the narratives he is telling us. His moves aim at causing cracks in the coalition, something that the soldiers will not agree with,” Mr Barasa said at an event in Bumula.

“We were in the Jubilee with now President William Ruto but things went south when President Uhuru Kenyatta isolated us and forced us out of the party. We moved on and formed the UDA party,” he added.

UDA chairperson Cecily Mbarire called on Kenyans to join the party and vie for leadership positions to strengthen democracy.

“I am appealing to women, youths and persons with disability to vie for leadership positions in the party so as to entrench equity. This is the party of hustlers and we need everyone on board,” the Embu governor said.

President Ruto reiterated his commitment to eradicating cartels in the agriculture sector so as to ensure that farmers get enough money for their produce.

“We want agriculture to put more money into the pockets of our farmers. That is why we are telling them that there are only three options and they must hear this. They will either vacate the country, go to jail or go to the grave,” Dr Ruto said.

“In the coffee, avocado, dairy and tea sectors, we are eradicating the cartels, thieves and brokers. We plan to construct 500 markets countrywide so that our traders can sell their produce in a nice environment,” he added.

Mr Rigathi lauded the President for championing for the interests of Africa at the world’s first Africa Climate Summit that took place this week between September 4 and 6.

“The President earned himself respect in the continent and the entire world during the climate summit. Kenya earned itself respect. We want you (Dr Ruto) to continue leading Kenya and Africa at large. We are fully behind you even in the 2027 elections,” the Deputy President said.