Mt Kenya planning to pick Ruto’s 2022 running mate

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto share a sign of peace with Catholic Clergy led by John Cardinal Njue during the burial mass of the late Rt. Rev. Cornelius Kipng'eno Korir at the Eldoret Sports Club, Eldoret County on November 11,2017.Photo PSCU
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto share a sign of peace with Catholic Clergy led by John Cardinal Njue during the burial mass of the late Rt. Rev. Cornelius Kipng'eno Korir at the Eldoret Sports Club, Eldoret County on November 11,2017.Photo PSCU

Mt Kenya politicians and businessmen are saying they will back William Ruto for President in 2022 but they want to control the choice of candidate for Deputy President.

Planning is underway, in earnest, even before the Supreme Court rules on President Uhuru’s second reelection.

Power brokers from Uhuru’s back yard want to ensure their interests are protected in the government through the next DP.

Though Jubilee’s immediate focus is government reorganisation, preparations for the next election are under discussion.

The Star has established that secret meetings have been held to ensure Uhuru alone does not influence selection of his running mate in 2022.

In a recent meeting, a vocal Nyeri county MP suggested Jubilee amend the law to require a primary election for running mate.

The MP said only Ruto should get the direct ticket for 2022 and anyone should be free to run for the number two position.

Those who have been attending the meetings declined to go on record divulging details, for fear of being dressed down by Uhuru and Ruto.

On November 4, governors from Mt Kenya region met in Nanyuki to discuss regional development and politics.

Though they informally discussed Uhuru’s succession, no headway was made, as four governors were absent.

Mt Kenya businessmen and politicians are jittery over indications Uhuru will continue to be active in Jubilee politics during his second term and afterward.

They are concerned Ruto could be looking outside Mt Kenya for his running mate, something insiders say the President supports.

In a recent interview with the Star, Majority Leader Aden Duale confirmed plans were in place for Uhuru not only to endorse Ruto but also to ensure he leads the campaigns

“One of the President’s legacies is being the chief campaigner for Ruto. It is our expectation that during the last two years or so of his term, he will put in place all necessary infrastructure and become chief campaigner,” Duale said.

He added, “This is to ensure his legacy and transformation agenda continues with the Deputy President.”

Mt Kenya politicians, businessmen and power brokers are expected to meet in mid-December to draw up a succession plan.

“Just as we started before 2011 and decided Uhuru would be our leader, we must come together and ensure we have a place in Ruto’s government after 2022,” a source familiar with the discussions told the Star.

An influential Central politician said, “Of course, formation of a new Cabinet will indicate where Ruto’s hand is leaning and that will inform any decision we make moving forward.”

Ruto is playing a large role in shaping the Cabinet and other important posts, seeking to put his allies and future campaigners in place.

There is growing sibling rivalry in Central region.

One bloc consists of Meru, Embu, Tharaka Nithi and Kirinyaga. Another bloc is Kiambu and Murang’a. Nyeri, Nyandarua, Laikipia and Nakuru are a third bloc.

The first group believes Meru Senator Kithure Kindiki or Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru should be Ruto’s deputy.

Kindiki is not shy in expressing his views and promises to make the official announcement on being Ruto’s running mate before Christmas.

Waiguru has been getting support from women politicians from Central and outside. They have been holding their own Uhuru ‘succession’ meetings.

Waiguru was instrumental in forming the Jubilee Women’s Brigade leading Uhuru’s campaign for the October 26 rerun.

However, Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua — Waiguru’s main rival in the August 8 election — has also been discussed as a running mate.

The Kiambu-Murang’a axis is more crowded with possible candidates. They includeformer Kiambu Governor William Kabogo, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah, former Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau and former presidential candidate Peter Kenneth.

According to Murang’a Senator Irungu Kangata, the best person to work with Ruto is Kenneth who lost the Nairobi Governor race on August 8.

The Aberdare group believes Devolution CS Mwangi Kiunjuri is strong enough to succeed Uhuru as the regional kingpin and be Deputy President.

Meantime, the Mt Kenya Youth Caucus has demanded unconditional support for Ruto’s 2022 bid.

Chairman Linford Mutembei said the lobby is urging Ruto to refuse to listen to blocs in the region who want him to negotiate for votes.

But outside the Mt Kenya group, the Star has learnt other players, especially from the Coast and Western, believe they can best deputise Ruto and ensure victory.

“It may be time for Mt Kenya to sit this one out to ensure the country feels Uhuru has been serious about national cohesion,” an MP from Western Kenya told the Star.

Already, a group led by former Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba is seeking to negotiate its way into higher office after Jubilee gave former Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka the Senate Speaker position.

Ruto’s meetings with several groups from outside Mt Kenya are making Uhuru’s men anxious, as they suspect the DP could be planning his line-up without them.