What you need to know:
- Dr Ruto’s raid on Mr Odinga’s camp has sparked a fresh confrontation between the two political protagonists.
- Dr Ruto has embarked on a charm offensive targeting MPs elected under Azimio La Umoja One Kenya, as well as independents.
- Prof Mutua warned that the country risks being hauled back to the old days of the Kanu dictatorship.
Dr Ruto’s raid on Mr Odinga’s camp has sparked a fresh confrontation between the two political protagonists.
Dr Ruto, who is the leader of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and the Kenya Kwanza coalition, has embarked on a charm offensive targeting MPs elected under Azimio La Umoja One Kenya, as well as independents.
The onslaught, in the face of an impending presidential election petition, is seen as a double-pronged scheme by Dr Ruto to control Parliament and cobble together a formidable team in readiness for a possible repeat election.
Political analysts believe that the early raid by Mr Ruto is largely aimed at shaping the perception of his popularity and shoring up his numbers in the event the Supreme Court nullifies his win.
Dr Odinga’s Presidential Campaign Secretariat spokesperson Makau Mutua yesterday termed the ongoing poaching of MPs an assault on multiparty democracy, describing it as an act of impunity aimed at killing Parliament’s oversight role.
Prof Mutua warned that the country risks being hauled back to the old days of the Kanu dictatorship.
He appealed to elected leaders to resist any form of inducement by Dr Ruto.
“Ruto is assiduously wooing some of the leaders elected as independents and on the Azimio coalition to defect to his side. This is the practice that was used in the Kanu era to defeat the independence of the legislature and retard the growth of multiparty democracy,” said Prof Mutua in a statement.
“He ought to know democracy requires vibrant pluralism in which different political parties compete on issues. Attempts to cannibalise Azimio by corrupting its members will not succeed,” he added.
Azimio yesterday further dismissed the political leaders who have crossed over as selfish individuals devoid of principles and convictions.
The coalition claimed Dr Ruto was already scared of a possible nullification of his win and was trying to poach leaders to bolster his camp.
Azimio further warned its members that supporting the rival Kenya Kwanza Alliance put them at risk of losing their parliamentary seats since they are still legally bound by their pre-election coalition agreement.
“He (Ruto) needs to stop engaging in the culture of political corruption. We know he wants to create propaganda to give the impression that he is the inevitable victor. The court will be the final arbiter on who won this election, and we are confident that we won it,” read the statement.
Interests and numbers
But Nairobi governor-elect Johnson Sakaja said the switching of political camps was normal as politics is all about interests and numbers.
He said that apart from seeking to have more numbers in Parliament on the Kenya Kwanza side, the alliance was also reaching out so that the country can move on united.
“We want to work with everyone and we are deliberately reaching out to our opponents so that we can build a united country,” said Mr Sakaja.
“Ultimately, Parliament is critical and you need numbers there. Politics is a game of numbers.”
But Azimio accused Dr Ruto of insincerity in what they termed an attempt to weaken the opponent despite his remarks about the need for a strong opposition to offer oversight in Parliament.
Mr Odinga rejected the presidential outcome of the August 9 General Election and has indicated plans to file an appeal at the Supreme Court by Tuesday next week.
But in the event of a rerun, Dr Ruto expects the new entrants – many of whom campaigned for Mr Odinga in the concluded polls – to back his bid.
The MPs switching camps are also critical in determining who wins the two speaker slots in the Senate and the National Assembly—both elected through balloting by members.
ODM chairman John Mbadi said Kenya Kwanza was engaging in “politics of optics” by poaching leaders to push the perception of having the backing of a majority of leaders.
“What Ruto is engaging in is not to control Parliament but preparation for a possible repeat election. He wants to get their support because he is aware that his win will be nullified,” he said.
“This is the same Ruto who told us that he will not entertain any handshake. He is here shaking hands with our members even before he is sworn in.”
Jubilee secretary general Jeremiah Kioni warned those defecting that they would be embarrassed should the court nullify the presidential election outcome.
He said the defectors were also exposing themselves to possible petitions for going against the provisions of the Political Parties Act on party hopping.
“It is important for leaders to be careful of this kind of pastoralists’ behaviour. The defections tell you that people believe in nothing,” said Mr Kioni yesterday.
“For the independents, they are risking a petition. They have to remain independent until the end of their term. Joining other political parties could see a voter file a petition to have them lose their seats,” he added.
Vihiga senator-elect Godfrey Osotsi termed it surprising that some leaders were ready to switch camps even before taking the oath of office.
“It is a demonstration of selfishness; what happens if the results are annulled? Are they going to switch back again to Raila? Ruto said there was a need for a strong opposition to oversight his government, but, on the other hand, is taking us back to a one-party state,” said Mr Osotsi.
Yesterday, Dr Ruto continued to win over more Azimio elected leaders and independents after holding separate meetings with Moyale MP-elect Guyo Waqo (UPIA) and Kanu’s Wario Guyo Adhe (North Horr).
Both Kanu and UPIA are partner parties in Azimio.
He also held talks with Meru governor-elect Kawira Mwangaza, who was elected as an independent.
Tiaty MP-elect William Kamket of Kanu has previously indicated his readiness to work with the President-elect.
On Thursday, Mr Ruto poached elected leaders under United Democratic Movement (UDM), another Azimio partner party. UDM and Mandera senator-elect Ali Roba led a delegation of the party’s elected members to his official Karen residence.
UDM won two governor seats, two senators, a woman representative, five National Assembly seats and a host of MCA positions. All have joined Kenya Kwanza.
Mr Roba, deputy party leader and Marsabit governor-elect Mohamud Ali, Mandera governor-elect Mohamed Adan Khalif, Mandera deputy governor-elect Ali Maalim and Wajir senator-elect Abbas Sheikh attended the Karen meeting.
MPs-elect Umulkheir Kassim (Mandera), Bashir Abdullahi (Mandera North), Kullow Hassan (Banisa), Joseph Lekuton (Laisamis), Mangale Munga Chiforomodo (Lunga Lunga), Abdul Enrahim Haro (Mandera South) and Adan Haji (Mandera West) also attended.
UDM yesterday accused certain individuals in Azimio of mistreating partner parties.
The outfit cited the physical attack on its candidate in the Siaya governor race. It also claimed it was denied access to the Azimio coalition agreement, making it feel unwanted.
“The least expected in partnership is respect. We have been struggling to fit in Azimio but became the unwanted guests. It is not about positions, but the feeling of belonging somewhere where you feel recognised, respected and consulted,” said Mr Roba.
“Long-standing unresolved issues, plus gate keepers feeling threatened by the presence of partners that spilt over into elections. You cannot coerce people into loyalty,” he added.
Earlier in the week when Dr Ruto met Kenya Kwanza's elected leaders where he announced winning over 10 out of 12 newly elected independents.