What you need to know:
- There is talk of powerful forces behind MP Ndindi Nyoro’s bid to unseat DP Gachagua.
- Some Mt Kenya region politicians are accusing Gachagua of behaving like former VP Josphat Karanja by striking fear among MPs.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s allies are no longer at ease at the abrupt eruption of an onslaught against him by a cross-section of Mt Kenya politicians led by Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, with some fearing there could be more to the push and it should not be ignored.
The move strongly brings to the fore how in 1989 lowly placed politicians acting on behalf of State House were used to bring down the then vice president Josephat Karanja.
In the Karanja scheme, politicians Kuria Kanyingi and David Mwenje accused him of sidelining those who helped him bag the office by making them to kneel before him.
Mr Karanja was only a year in office after then-President Daniel Moi appointed him to the position following the sacking Mwai Kibaki.
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The two then small-time politicians accused him of behaving like a demi-god. Kanyingi held a position in the lowly motor vehicle inspection unit and Mwenje was the Embakasi MP.
A source who spoke in confidence told the Sunday Nation that the political noise could be a warning shot to the Deputy President that he can be destabilised even in his own region, even though there were no immediate plans for a coup against him like in the Karanja case.
Nonetheless, from Mt Kenya region, politicians such as former Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, Murang’a Senator Joe Nyutu, Dagorreti South MP John Kiarie among others are accusing Gachagua of behaving like Karanja by striking fear among MPs.
They want President William Ruto to replace Mr Gachagua as his running mate in 2027 and in his place pick Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro—who will eventually go for the top seat in 2032.
The Deputy President has, however, dismissed the debate and said his only focus was on helping the President to succeed.
Speaking in Nandi County on January 15, Mr Gachagua said the succession talk was disrespectful to the President.
“They are talking about succession when we are only in office for one year with nine more to go,” he said.
The onslaught is made all the more intriguing by Nyutu’s declaration that “the president knows about this and is aware…very aware that he does not have a deputy and if he has, it is only on paper”.
Even though the Deputy President had earlier indicated he would not be drawn into an unnecessary political contest, on Friday, the supremacy battle intensified with a number of MPs rallying behind him in a meeting led by Mathira MP Eric Wamumbi at Karatina Stadium.
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“Gachagua is the senior-most politician in Mt Kenya. There’s no infighting in the region. We will all support him. The other leaders should wait,” Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga said.
Murang’a Woman Rep Betty Maina said: “We have a lot of problems we are supposed to solve before 2027 and we should desist from early campaigns.”
Mr Nyutu told Nation that “this drive is serious, has the numbers, won’t relent, it has blessings from unimaginable quarters and it is either our way or our way no other side of the coin”. Worrying for Gachagua’s allies is the fact that the Nyoro onslaught has been packaged to have allies from Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza.
Those allies—said to be the frontline representing many others behind them—include Nandi Senator Samson Cheraregei, Emgwen MP Josses Lelmengit and Shurie Omar (Balambala). Also in the list is Jematiah Sergon (Baringo), Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, Paul Biego for Chesumei, Shinyalu’s Fred Ikana, Doris Donya (Woman Rep for Kisii) and former nominated MP Wilson Sossion. In two rallies in Kiharu constituency made to appear like annual anniversaries (February 15, 2023 and January 11, 2024, the president allies made it blatant that State House was in favour of Mr Nyoro. Mr Cheraregei said Nyoro was the man from Mt Kenya region who was instrumental in the election of President Ruto: “We in the Rift Valley acknowledge that and we categorise him as a politician of great promise”.
Now, Jubilee’s Kanini Kega believes Mr Nyoro cannot be acting in his own.
“Those backing him should stop being used to divide a region Gachagua is working too hard to unite,” he says.
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Mathira MP Eric Wamumbi said “These succession talks should be minimised and instead we should rally together behind Gachagua to press for more benefits in Mt Kenya region on behalf of our people instead of for ourselves”.
In campaigning for Dr Ruto in Mt Kenya for the last election, Gachagua’s camp was led by Mr Nyoro, Lands and Housing Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa, Public Service CS Moses Kuria and Naivasha MP Jayne Kihara. There is growing perception over the last one year that these senior politicians are no longer enthusiastic about Mr Gachagua.
A number of Mt Kenya MPs appear to be excited by this new warfront and are fuelling it in every available podium, including burials and vernacular radio stations. Nyeri County senator Wahome Wamatinga believes that “this chorus that has erupted against Gachagua who is our collective spokesman is disturbing and out of the ordinary”.
When asked about criticism of the push to have him declared the Mt Kenya kingpin, Mr Nyoro declined to comment but cryptically resorted to his signature line: “tell them that we are Africans and Africa is our business”.
- Additional reporting by Lucas Barasa and Stephen Munyiri