Ruto allies to back Wiper in Embakasi poll

Wiper candidate Julius Mawathe /COLLINS KWEYU
Wiper candidate Julius Mawathe /COLLINS KWEYU

Another storm is brewing in Jubilee over a decision by the top leadership not to field a candidate in the Embakasi parliamentary by-election.

The Star has established that Deputy President William Ruto has protested the decision, said to have been unilaterally made by President Uhuru Kenyatta and party secretary general Raphael Tuju.

Ruto allies yesterday told the Star the move to lock Jubilee out of the poll was made without consultation to give Raila Odinga’s ODM an easy ride. The DP and his allies now plan to quietly back Wiper candidate Julius Mawathe. This sets the stage for a bruising battle in the cosmopolitan constituency.

“We were not informed about any meeting that deliberated on the matter of us [Jubilee] not fielding a candidate in Embakasi South. Otherwise, we had serious and popular candidates who had expressed interest to fly the party flag,” a senator allied to Ruto said in confidence.

The senator was categorical that the decision was “undemocratic and dictatorial” and has the “lethal effect of rocking the party from within”.

“The agenda is to set Ruto against Raila and paint him as an anti-handshake — nothing much. But we shall teach ODM a bitter lesson in Embakasi South,” the lawmaker said.

Tuju defended the decision, saying there were enough consultations at the apex of the Jubilee leadership.

“Consultations were done at the level of the leadership of the party. It was a considered decision and not a rushed one,” he said. “At the end of the day, the party has its leadership, which consults and does analysis.”

But veteran politician Rashid Minyong’a, who was eyeing the Jubilee ticket, dismissed claims there were consultations.

“It was unfortunate for the party to play mind games with us. We were ready for the ticket, including going for nominations, but were shocked to learn of the withdrawal,” the former South Mugirango MP aspirant said. “Let’s meet them on the ground. We have moved on and shall do what it takes to win the seat.”

Minyong’a will now run on the Kenya National Congress party ticket.

Tuju hinted that Jubilee could have found it difficult to win. Asked whether the party had acted to bolster ODM candidate’s chances of winning, he said Jubilee had yet to take a stand to back a candidate.

“When we made the decision, we did not discuss whom we would support. I will announce that after there have been discussions and I have instructions,” Tuju said.

ODM has declared Irshadali Sumra the party’s candidate and warned Nasa affiliate Wiper to brace itself for a battle royal in the April 5 by-election. The sibling rivalry could, however, give other small parties a competitive edge. Former MP Sumra won an election petition against Mawathe, prompting a fresh contest.

On Tuesday, however, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria met a group of MPs from Central Kenya to declare their support for Mawathe.

This scheme is seen as an attempt to isolate ODM’s Sumra, whose party leader Raila poses the biggest threat to Ruto’s march to State House.

“The Jubilee Party will not field a candidate in the forthcoming Embakasi South by-election. As such, in the spirit of the handshake and the Building Bridges Initiative, likeminded leaders and I, in our individual capacities, have today resolved to support Musili Mawathe,” Kuria said in a statement.

The MPs present included Charles Jaguar (Starehe), George Theuri (Embakasi West) and Simon Mbugua (EALA). Others were Makali Mulu (Kitui Central) and former Machakos senator Johnson Muthama.

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