William Ruto and Rigathi Gachagua 
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Rigathi Gachagua vs William Ruto: Battle for numbers as camps emerge

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President William Ruto (left) and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

United Democratic Alliance (UDA) MPs have started to align themselves with either President William Ruto or his deputy Rigathi Gachagua in a battle of numbers as the political feud between the top two leaders escalates.

In a development similar to the emergence of Tangatanga and Kieleweke factions during the falling-out between President Ruto and his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta, Mr Gachagua on Friday sensationally claimed intimidation and threats against politicians aligned with him.

The emergence of the two camps played out on Friday when Mr Gachagua led a group of politicians allied to him during a church function in Ruiru where some openly castigated over taxation by President Ruto's government. In Gatundu North, 18 MPs allied to President Ruto continued with their onslaught against Mr Gachagua.

The emergence of the camps also played out during the crucial vote on the Finance Bill when some of the perceived allies of Mr Gachagua either skipped the vote or voted against it, with Mr Gachagua claiming that his allies were under immense intimidation by the state.

“I want to say today, the journey for uniting this region (Mt Kenya) is complete. The ordinary wananchi (citizens),  are speaking one language.”

“Just a few leaders here and there and we understand. Some are being intimidated, they are being coerced, they are being threatened. They are told if you call for unity, you shall not have projects, if you are seen with the deputy president things can be very bad for you. But those are normal things,” said Mr Gachagua, when he spoke in Ruiri on Friday.

Mr Gachagua spoke in the company of Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga, Kiambu Senator Karungo Thang'wa, MPs MPs Simon King'ara (Ruiru), James Gakuya (Embakasi North), George Koimburi (Juja), Jayne Kihara (Naivasha), Wainaina Wambugu (Othaya), Onesmus Ngogoyo (Kajiado North), Wainaina Njoroge (Kieni) and Gathoni Wamuchomba (Githunguri).

Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka, former Cabinet Secretaries Eugene Wamalwa, and Sicily Kariuki also joined them. Others were Ruiru MP Simon King'ara, Juja MP George Koimburi, former Kiambu governors Ferdinand Waititu and James Nyoro, and former Laikipia Woman Representative Cate Waruguru.

William Ruto and Rigathi Gachagua

President William Ruto and confers with his deputy Rigathi Gachagua at ACK Church of the Christ the King Cathedral in Nyahururu, Laikipia County on June 23, 2024.

Photo credit: Boniface Mwangi | Nation Media Group

Some of the leaders have become common faces in his political gatherings amid the escalating rift in UDA.

Mr Koimburi, one of the UDA MPs who voted against the Finance Bill, told Mr Gachagua during the gathering that he was among the lawmakers who stood with Gen Z in rejecting the Bill, which he said would impose additional taxes on Kenyans who are already overtaxed.

The lawmaker said he voted for the Finance Bill, 2023 that introduced a 1.5 percent housing levy, but one year down the lane, there were no houses to show for the deductions.

“Here in Juja, I have not seen any complete housing project. Next week when we go for the Committee of the whole house, my position remains the same. I will reject the Bill. We will continue supporting you (Mr Gachagua) to unite Mt Kenya,” said the MP.

MPs Gakuya, Benjamin Gathiru, popularly known as Mejjadonk, (Embakasi Central), Kirinyaga Woman Rep Njeri Maina, Nyali MP Mohammed Ali, and Jubilee nominated MP Sabina Chege were absent during the vote. They are perceived allies of Mr Gachagua.

In Gatundu North, MPs Alice Ng’ang’a (Thika Town), John Kawanjiku (Kiambaa), Faith Gitau (Nyandarua), John Paul Mwirigi (Igembe South), Eric Wamumbi (Mathira), Jane Kagiri (Laikipia Woman Rep), Dancun Mathenge (Nyeri Town), Elijah Karuria (Gatundu North), Gabriel Gagombe (Gatundu South), Joseph Mburu (Lari) continued with their attack against Mr Gachagua.

The MPs also defended their decision to back the contentious Finance Bill, saying the government needs money to finance construction of roads and other projects.

“We remain solidly behind President Ruto. Others are always scheming to fight other leaders in Mt Kenya. We are not going to be distracted in our resolve to work with President Ruto. It does not make sense for us to start fighting the government when half of the government is from Mt Kenya,” said Mr Kawaanjiku.

William Ruto and Rigathi Gachagua 

President William Ruto and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua during the National Prayer Breakfast on May 31, 2024 at Safari Park Hotel.

Photo credit: PCS

Some of Dr Ruto's allies have also accused Mr Gachagua of intimidation and blackmail for working with the President.

The alleged intimidation became a subject of discussion on the floor of the National Assembly last week when Nyeri Town MP Dancun Mathenge described the trend as widespread.

“I speak on behalf of the six elected Members of Parliament from Nyeri County, including the Senator and the Woman Rep. We have suffered intimidation and blackmail,” Mr Mathenge told the House.

“It is imperative that as elected leaders we be allowed the space to execute the mandate the ordinary people in Nyeri gave us when they voted for us. It is not possible that the people of Nyeri voted for us so that we can follow an individual. We want to speak from the floor of this House that respect is two ways. Respect is earned, it is not demanded,” he said.

Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiunjuri also made similar allegations against the DP, who is becoming increasingly isolated by allies of President William Ruto.

“We have evidence on how he has been threatening and demeaning not less than 38 elected leaders in the region, chasing some away from functions and planting oppositions against others on the grounds or forcing them to submit to him,” said Mr Kiunjuri.

“He has been going around pretending to be uniting the mountain, yet he is moving around demeaning and defaming those he thinks do not support him. We cannot be made to submit to a person like small children, let him continue, but once he pushes us to the wall, we will come out fighting,” he declared.