Following the endless onslaught from his own party and political friends, Deputy President William Ruto could be considering an exit from the party he founded.
In what they term deliberate efforts to frustrate DP Ruto’s 2022 march to State House, his allies say they have no option but to consider an exit strategy.
But time is of the essence because even as the DP’s cronies mull their options, their numbers are dwindling by the day. The allies Sunday told the Nation that only a change of heart from the President will stop their mass exodus.
Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono alluded to wrangling in the party, which, he said, was not healthy for their State House quest, come 2022, and if the President continues to “intimidate” them, they will have no choice but to leave.
“Even if we have invested in this party and the current ill treatment continues, we shall review our position in it because a party is just a piece of cloth,” he said.
For Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, another ally of the DP, it’s clear what the DP’s camp will do in case they will not be given Jubilee Party tickets in 2022.
“Yes, the DP is in extensive consultations with our lawyers [and] political strategists, among others, and even though we’re not planning to leave the party, it is more than obvious what will happen if they will deny us the party tickets,” the Kimilili MP said.
As they continue to face political uncertainty in the Jubilee Party, already the DP’s lieutenants have tabled several options that include pushing for Jubilee Party grassroots elections, and thereafter the party’s National Delegates Convention together with legal redress as President Kenyatta maintains that errant members will either toe the line and support his agenda or quit.
Although pulling out of Jubilee Party remains their last resort, all indications are that they are planning to leave, and it is just a matter of when, not if.
Belgut MP Nelson Koech, another Ruto man, disclosed that leaving the party will be the last option in case the NDC will fail to address their pertinent issues. “When that time comes, and if we feel that it is not tenable in Jubilee, then at that point, we will leave, but at the moment we’re in and we will be the last to leave.”
Jubilee deputy secretary-general Caleb Kositany, who is also the DP’s de facto spokesman, however, did not want to speak on their exit plan. He said that although they’re banking on the grassroots elections immediately after the country comes out of the Covid-19 pandemic to enable the supporters to determine the fate of the party, they are will make their next move known very soon.
“Yes, we have a plan which will be made public at the right time, though immediately after Covid-19, we are going to demand grassroots elections so that we have full representations from down up to the national level. As a party, we have never held party elections and that’s why it’s important now so that we hold the NDC before 2022,” said Mr Kositany, who is also Soy MP.
He claimed that they will take back control of the party using the party polls, alleging that the President’s side is using the virus pandemic to perpetuate illegalities. He, however, admitted that the DP’s camp has lost in the current push and pull and they have resorted to silence as they monitor the situation.
“Jubilee is a national party; it doesn’t belong to an individual. If it fails to hold grassroots elections, which is a must as required by law, this is when we will meet with these people carrying out boardroom coups. They have used Covid-19 to carry out these coups. They have won, they have beaten us,” the MP said.
Commentators are, however, sceptical that such a move would have an impact as the haemorrhage from the DP’s camp continues unabated.
More Ruto are plotting to join the handshake initiative between President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Some of the politicians drawn from President Kenyatta’s stronghold of central Kenya and the Maasai region say they’re seeing a future in the handshake not only because of politics, but also as a result of the need to unite the country.
“DP Ruto is my friend, but he’s not a politician who forgives and forgets. Such a leader should not be President of this country. He needs to humble himself and seek forgiveness even from those who have wronged him in the past. He can borrow an example from Raila Odinga,” Laikipia Woman Representative Catherine Waruguru told the Nation.
Despite being harassed by the government and making unsavoury statements against Mr Odinga in the past, the Laikipia MP said, Kenya’s unity was more important [to him] than the ambitions of one person to be president.
“What is so big about not forgiving each other? If Raila forgave Presidents Moi and Kibaki who wronged him including being detained, why should Ruto not forgive and forget?” Ms Waruguru posed.
Last week, the former fierce defender of the DP became the second MP from her backyard to embrace the handshake, which allies of the DP have often claimed is a plot to make Mr Odinga president.
Hours after her move, Laikipia North MP Sarah Korere, who famously likened Mr Odinga to an old bull only good for slaughter, trooped to the ODM chief’s Capitol Hill office to pledge allegiance.
The move by the two MPs now leaves Laikipia West MP Kariuki Mariru and Senator John Kinyua as the only elected legislators supporting the DP in Laikipia.
Governor Ndiritu Muriithi has come out to support the President against his DP, while Laikipia East MP Amin Mohamed is a fence-sitter in the Kieleweke versus Tangatanga politics.
Support for the ‘handshake’
A few weeks earlier, Interior PS Karanja Kibicho and Kirinyaga Senator Charles Kibiru led three out of four MPs from Kirinyaga County, John Wambugu (Kirinyaga Central), Josphat Wachira (Mwea) and Robert Gichimu Githinji (Gichuru) to pledge their support for the handshake and the President.
The move now leaves Ndia MP George Kariuki and Woman Representative Purity Ngirici as the key supporters of the DP.
“After Kirinyaga, we’ll ensure that other MPs, who have been moving around with the Deputy President, come back home and support the President’s agenda. Let politics wait for 2022,” Senator Kibiru said.
In the neighbouring Embu County, Runyenjes MP Eric Muchangi, alias Karemba, has told his allies that he is contemplating his political alliance with the DP.
If Mr Karemba ditches the Ruto camp, he will become the first MP to do so in a county in which all the other legislators — John Nyaga (Manyatta), Geoffrey Kingagi (Mbeere South) and Charles Njagagua (Mbeere North) and Senator Njeru Ndwiga — have pledged their allegiance to Mr Ruto.
Governor Martin Wambora is the only open supporter of the President, while the area Woman Representative, Ms Jane Wanjuki, who has been a fence-sitter is said to be warming up to the President.
Other than Embu, DP Ruto still enjoys massive support in the neighbouring Tharaka-Nithi County.
In Tharaka-Nithi, all the area MPs — Kareke Mbiuki (Maara), Patrick Munene (Chuka/Igambang’ombe) and George Murugura (Tharaka) — are supporters of the DP alongside Senator Kithure Kindiki and Woman Representative Beatrice Nyaga.
Area Governor Muthomi Njuki has since ditched the DP and now supports the President.
But the fortunes of the DP in Meru County have been affected by Igembe South MP John Paul Mwirigi, who has warmed up to the handshake team, and Igembe Central MP Kubai Iringo, who is also said to be courting the DP’s political enemies.
President Kenyatta enjoys the support of Governor Kiraitu Murungi and MPs Abdul Dawood (North Imenti M) and Maore Maoka (Igembe North).
The MPs who support Ruto are Josphat Kabeabea (Tigania West), John Mutunga (Tigania West), Mugambi Rindikiri (Buuri) and Nguchine Kirima (Central Imenti).
Meru Senator Mithika Linturi and Woman Representative Kawira Mwangaza also support Mr Ruto.
In Nyeri, more MPs have vowed to support the unity bid fronted by Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, with MPs Gichuhi Mwangi (Tetu) and Githiaka Kiai (Mukurweini) being the latest to join the fray.
The legislators have joined Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Mugambi, Kieni MP Kanini Kega and Senator Ephraim Maina among those asking the DP to respect President Kenyatta.
The Nyeri County MPs still sticking with DP Ruto are Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira) and Woman Representative Rahab Wachira.
Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga is siding with President Kenyatta.
Nyeri MP Ngunjiri Wambugu says that the move by the President to chair the Senate Parliamentary Group meeting, which disciplined Ruto allies, was the clearest manifestation that the period for fence-sitting was over.
In Murang’a County, majority of the elected leaders have now moved to support President Kenyatta and are asking his deputy to let the President carry out his development agenda as the elections are far away in the year 2022.
The elected leaders from the county, who don’t side with the DP, are MPs Muturi Kigano (Kangema), Peter Kihara (Mathioya), Wangari Mwaniki (Kigumo) and Joseph Nduati (Gatanga).
Area Senator Irungu Kang’ata, Woman Representative Sabina Chege and Governor Mwangi wa Iria have ganged up against the DP, while Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and Kandara MP Alice Wahome are staunch supporters of the Deputy President.
Maragua MP Mary Waithira is said to be a fence-sitter.
“Some of those who are thronging Odinga’s office are suffering from the excitement of political adolescence. They will move but our people will stick with Dr Ruto,” MP Nyoro said.
In Nyandarua County, experienced politicians Jeremiah Kioni (Ndaragwa MP) and Amos Kimunya (Kipipiri MP) have sided with the President after months of saying that they were not interested in picking a side between the Head of State and his deputy.
The rest of the elected MPs in the county, Kwenya Thuku (Kinangop), Njuguna Kiaraho (Ol Kalou) and Mwangi Muchira (Ol Joro Orok) are strong supporters of the Deputy President alongside Woman Representative Faith Wairimu and Senator Githiomi Mwangi.
Nyandarua Governor Kimemia Mwangi supports President Kenyatta.
In Nakuru, MPs Francis Kimani (Molo), Jayne Kihara (Naivasha), Martha Wangari (Gilgil), Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati) openly support DP Ruto, while Subukia MP Kinuthia Gachobe sides with the President.
Nakuru Town East MP David Gikaria is said to be worming his way towards the President.
In President Kenyatta’s home county of Kiambu, his deputy enjoys the support of MPs Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Kimani Wainaina (Thika Town), Gabriel Kago (Githunguri), James Wamacukuru (Kabete), Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu) and Lari MP Jonah Mwangi.
Kiambu MPs, who have openly told off the DP, are Paul Koinange (Kiambaa), Mungai Mwathi (Limuru), Woman Representative Gathoni Wamuchomba and Governor James Nyoro.
The stand of legislators Francis Munyua (Juja), Jude Njomo (Kiambu) and Senator Paul Wamatangi is not in the open.
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