DP William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto. 

| File | Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

Ruto in crisis talks with Mt Kenya allies

Deputy President William Ruto yesterday began a two-day crisis meeting with legislators as a bitter fight among his allies in Mt Kenya rages over key issues dogging his campaign.

The agenda for the meeting includes a formal unveiling of Mr Ruto as the UDA presidential candidate, the space of smaller parties in UDA, fundraising, and how to react to an onslaught by President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

The meeting started Friday at the Aberdare Cottages in Nanyuki and will continue up to Satruday when the leaders are expected to address a press conference.

Meru senator Mithika Linturi, his Murang’a counterpart Irungu Kang’ata and MPs Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu) and Wangui Ngirici (Kirinyaga County) yesterday confirmed that they will be meeting the DP to chart the way forward on the succession of the Head of State but underscored that their discussions will also focus on the economic empowerment of their people.

The DP allies are expected to discuss strategies to counter an onslaught by Mr Odinga in Mt Kenya. Mr Odinga has been meeting leaders from the region for the last three days. President Kenyatta’s allies have also began regional visits. On Thursday, they toured road projects in five counties in a session that also included Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia.

To counter the move by Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta, the Ruto allies are proposing that the DP resumes his engagement in the region and take the battle to the constituencies represented by Mr Kenyatta allies. Consequently, a church fundraising led by Mr Ruto will be held on Sunday in Kieni, a constituency represented by MP Kanini Kega, an ally of the President.

Senator Linturi said that since the President is out to influence his succession by organising ODM boss Raila Odinga and One Kenya Alliance (OKA) as well as MPs allied to the Head of State working on a scheme to block the DP in the region and from ascending to power, the meeting will help chart the way forward for the DP.

“We are likely to discuss the politics of the day because we also take a position as the representatives of the people considering that Uhuru himself is also trying to organise his OKA guys around him and the Kieleweke people,” the senator said yesterday.

Mr Nyoro said they will be discussing how they can ascend to power come next year to revolutionise the economy of the country.

“Our agenda is to grab power in the next 10 months so that we can deliver our people,” he told the Nation yesterday. The revelation by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangí of some of the properties the DP owns and how to counter the impact it has had on his hustler brand will also be on the cards.

The issue of the road to nomination of Mr Ruto as the UDA party candidate is also expected to feature and various options are on the table on how to conduct the nomination to garner as much acceptability while also stemming any fallout when the party picks Mr Ruto’s running mate. Mr Ruto is under pressure to pick a running mate from Mt Kenya but his western allies have warned that the move maybe counterproductive and make UDA look like a two-community affair.

Senator Kangata disclosed that they will be coming up with strategies on how to lock out other political parties from the region with less than a year to the polls.

“We have noted that Hustler Nation’s bottom-up economics is being viewed from the prisms of national government. We intend to discuss counties and ‘Hustler Nation’ philosophy because we intend UDA to capture all Mount Kenya counties,” he said in an interview yesterday noting that reporting time was from 4pm.

But Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua insisted the main agenda was to discuss Guaranteed Minimum Return for tea, rice, potatoes, coffee and mangoes under hustler nation controlled counties..

But the elephant in the meeting room will be parties in the region like The Party of Service (TPS) of Mwangi Kiunjuri and People’s Empowerment Party (PEP) of Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria. DP allies are split on what to do with some insisting they have no problem with the two while others want them to fold and join UDA.

“No one has ever told anyone to fold their parties. They must not tell people to join them. We are so busy with UDA affairs. Why should they lament? We believe in democracy, therefore, it will not be part of our agenda anytime,” said Mr Nyoro.

Senator Linturi said they view others as competitors and at no point will they negotiate with them, accusing the two leaders of coming up with parties to take advantage of the locals at the expense of their personal interests.

“We can only sit down and agree to work together until perhaps after 2022 and time will tell” he said.

But Mr Kiunjuri said UDA is already showing dictatorial and intimidation tendencies while some allies of the DP are resorting to open hostility and arrogance towards him and other party leaders from the mountain region.

“If you are running away from Jubilee because of politics of intimidation and coercion, we cannot afford to get into another situation like that again. Whoever fights and demeans other political parties goes against the principles of democracy and that should really worry us,” said Mr Kiunjuri.

“If this is the behaviour before they (UDA) get power, we can only speculate what some of them will do if they are lucky to win the elections,” he added.

He spoke as Dr Ruto allies accused him and Mr Kuria of insincerity for failing to fold their political parties and join UDA. The leaders said the refusal by both Mr Kuria and Mr Kuinjuri to abandon their political vehicles and rally behind the DP Ruto-led UDA party, was evidence of their hypocrisy.

Fallout

The two leaders have also been accused of plans to cash in on a possible fallout, by fielding rival candidates in the region, to compete against UDA candidates, thereby splitting the votes in favour of the DP’s opponents in the region.

Already, Mr Kuria has announced plans to embark on a recruitment drive for his party in what he said is a move aimed at positioning the outfit as the sole vehicle of choice for the Mt Kenya region.

Should this happen then the Gatundu South legislator may as well be in a sole position to attract hundreds of aspirants willing to fly the party’s flag in the next elections, raising the stakes even higher for funds.

The UDA-allied central Kenya leaders are meeting with the DP this weekend and one of the agenda items of the gathering is about the small parties that support Dr Ruto but have refused to dissolve and join UDA. Some DP’s handlers have ruled out forming a coalition with the likes of TSP and PEP, and will be seeking to build a coalition directly with the people.

According to Gachagua, both Mr Kuria and Mr Kuinjuri have been demanding more than their fair share, adding that the two had little to no contribution on the DP’s campaigns and support in the Mt Kenya region.

Mr Gachagua said a possible deal with the two parties can only happen after next year’s election, when they will gauge the strength of the two based on the number of seats they have won.

“Moses Kuria, what is his strength? Yes, he is from Mount Kenya but when he comes, he is just alone, same to Kiunjuri but those who are in UDA, we are over 60. So how will we talk with them? We are saying that let them come on board and no one is asking them to dissolve at all,” said Mr Gachagua said.

Narc Kenya’s Martha Karua has also been caucusing with TSP and PEP as they resist the pressure to wind up their parties and join UDA.

UDA secretary-general Veronica Maina told the Nation that the focus for UDA is to build its support base and recruit as many members as possible from across the country, adding that talks for an alliance, or a coalition with other political parties was not a priority at the moment.

“We are not pressured to cope with demands of those affiliate parties because we are working within a democracy. If they decide to go for campaigns, we are equally for the same. Right now, if someone is supporting the DP, we encourage them to be part of UDA,” she said.

According to Mr Kiunjuri, some central Kenya leaders close to the DP have resorted to demeaning party and other outfits in the mountain region, a decision he says will not augur well for UDA.

“Why would anybody argue that theirs is a national party and others are not when the party they are talking about has not been tested at any election? Just like they want to give their party opportunity to grow, TSP should also be given time to be tested over time?” he posed.

Mr Kiunjuri also dismissed claims of hoping to cash in during the nominations. The former Cabinet Secretary says TSP is an established party with office and staff and has been paying rent and other operational costs.

“I only sympathise with the people making claims that we are in it for the money because they are talking out of ignorance. TSP is not willing to respond to some excited political greenhorns. I was first elected to parliament in 1997. My experience has taught me that I cannot join a party or support an individual out of excitement. We are not excited about money and positions,” he said.

Reporting by Walter Menya,Silas Apollo and Onyango K’Onyango

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.