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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Ruto’s 2022 bid in doubt as he faces mutiny in Mt Kenya

Deputy President William Ruto with Nairobi senator Mike Sonko address supporters outside Jubilee offices in Nairobi on Wednesday. /DPPS
Deputy President William Ruto with Nairobi senator Mike Sonko address supporters outside Jubilee offices in Nairobi on Wednesday. /DPPS

Deputy President William Ruto’s support in Central Kenya hangs in the balance after wealthy influential leaders who lost JP primaries are regrouping as independents.

Mt Kenya support is considered crucial if Ruto is to win the presidency in 2022.

These independents have formed a caucus and say they were rigged out in a wider scheme to clear them out in readiness for the 2022 polls.

The launch of the Mount Kenya Caucus of Independent candidates this weekend will redefine the region’s power structure and determine who calls the shots after the August 8 polls. They will campaign together.

Emergence of the renegade group means the DP must renegotiate with the region if he wants its support.

JP nominees are not sleeping well and are not ready to make way for independents. They have organised their own meeting in Nanyuki on Saturday to plan a counteroffensive against the independents.

Ruto will attend the meeting.

The region’s politicians have been at daggers drawn for weeks and say Ruto is trying to consolidate his power in Jubilee. They say he is focussed on the years post-President Uhuru Kenyatta, whether Uhuru wins or loses.

“This is a number [of independents] no party can ignore. What if all these candidates make it to the next government? It means the President will have it rough selling his agenda to the county, National Assembly and Senate,” Kiambu Governor William Kabogo said on Wednesday.

International Centre for Policy and Conflict executive director Ndung’u Wainaina says the independents’ caucus will create a new centre of power away from JP, NASA and other parties.

Wainaina said those elected as independents will have more influence and no party can ignore them, whatever their numbers.

Kabogo, who lost in a landslide, said, “People know I’m mature and they can’t destroy me. The only way to achieve that is to remove me from the seat. As long as I’m breathing, I’ll not be irrelevant. I’ll work for the nation and my county, which is the role of a leader.”

Ruto was in charge of the primaries after the nominations were bungled and cancelled on the first day.

“I don’t have evidence that Ruto was behind rigging me out in the primaries. But people will tell you all manner of things. Some people met in a hotel to plan how to rig me out. Money exchanged hands and I have the footage,” Kabogo said.

“Kenyans are looking for individuals’ development records and their character before casting final votes.”

The county boss said the caucus has written to the IEBC to demand clarification on the issues raised against returning officers.

“This time round, it won’t be Jubilee or TNA running the election. It will be the IEBC,” Kabogo said in an exclusive interview with the Star.

Kabogo has always insisted the interest of the Mt Kenya region must be considered in any political deal.

JP survival in doubt?

JP remains the strongest political outfit in the region.

However, its place has been threatened by Uhuru’s decision to work with small parties such as DP, Maendeleo Chap Chap, PNU and Narc Kenya, which have fielded strong candidates.

Ruto has been perceived as JP’s automatic presidential candidate in 2022.

However, JP’s durability and survival after August is in question.

“We all know what happened to PNU and Narc. The same fate awaits Jubilee after the August election. In fact, if we have a deal between Ruto and Uhuru — which I doubt exists because it has never been made public — then Mount Kenya is not part of it,” Wainaina said.

He said the primaries demonstrated voters no longer believe in the status quo and think independently.

The Jubilee meeting in Nanyuki will strategise on how to mobilise votes for Uhuru. Members want to show that Mt Kenya independents’ claim they are mobilising votes for Uhuru does not hold.

“We’re coming together to stop voter apathy and ensure everyone rallies behind Uhuru,” Laikipia Governor Joshua Irungu said.


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