Ruto, Gachagua camps emerge in UDA ahead of party elections

DP Rigathi Gachagua holds a consultative meeting with the UDA National Steering Committee

DP Rigathi Gachagua holds a consultative meeting with the UDA National Steering Committee on Wednesday, October 18.  

Photo credit: Courtesy | DPCS

What you need to know:

  • President Ruto has been forced to convene a crisis meeting to forestall divisions.
  • Two rival camps coalescing around Ruto and Gachagua have begun to form.

President William Ruto has been forced to convene a crisis meeting to forestall emergence of factions in his United Democratic Alliance (UDA) ahead of the planned grassroots elections.

Camps have begun to form around President Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, with some leaders now pushing for the postponement of the exercise scheduled for December 9.

Mr Gachagua on Wednesday October 18 chaired the UDA National Steering and Management Committee to discuss the level of preparedness for the elections as well as the proposal to have the elections deferred.

Another meeting to be chaired by President Ruto has been scheduled for November 2 to make a final decision on whether to proceed with the planned party elections or postpone it to next year.

UDA National Women Congress meeting held at Bomas of Kenya last week and attended by Mr Gachagua proposed the postponement of the elections.

The Nation yesterday learnt that one of the factions is fronting Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro to run for the Secretary-General post. Mr Nyoro is a perceived as close ally of Dr Ruto.

He had not responded to our inquiry if he plans to run for the seat by the time of going to press.

Should he run, he would face off with Mr Cleophas Malala, who is currently holding the position on an interim basis, and others seeking the seat.

Addressing the press at the party’s headquarters yesterday after the meeting, Mr Malala dismissed reports of conflict in the party.

Mr Malala confirmed that the scheduled meeting to be chaired by Dr Ruto will make a final decision on the request by UDA women leaders to defer the exercise. “As it stands now, the elections will be held on December 9,” he said.

Mr Malala noted that they are doing everything possible to ensure free, fair and credible elections.

“The meeting took stock of the party’s preparedness towards the polls and agreed on an elaborate civic education plan plus a media campaign to ensure all members are properly informed on the December polls,” said Mr Malala.

“We have discussed in depth acquisition of the gadgets that we are going to use in the 27,450 polling stations. We have also discussed how we are going to prepare training manuals,” he added.

President Ruto is facing a delicate balancing act on how to navigate the political interests in Mt Kenya involving Mr Gachagua, whose focus in the December grassroots election would be to plant his loyalists in key party positions.

Mr Gachagua’s interests would include having his cronies in the party’s key decision-making organs for purposes of taking over when President Ruto’s term expires.

Kilifi North MP and National Assembly Deputy Majority Leader Owen Baya said the ruling party should proceed with the polls as a way of strengthening democracy. “There will never be any one time that would be convenient for everyone,” he said.