Ruto meets 23 governors over alliance talks

County chiefs from across the country, have agreed to back DP’s presidential bid in next election

Deputy President William Ruto has held five meetings separately with at least 23 governors in the last two weeks to craft a winning line-up ahead of 2022 polls.

Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok and former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri have led the meetings and talks.

Those in the meetings discussed how to form a strong team to face off with One Kenya Alliance which is backed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The One Kenya Alliance brings together ANC boss Musalia Mudavadi, Gideon Moi (Kanu), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) and Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya).

The governors from across the country, sources say, have agreed to back Ruto’s presidential bid in next year’s general election.

Most of the governors and senior government officials had avoided being associated or seen near the DP for fear of state intimidation. 

The governors mostly from the larger Mt Kenya, Northeastern, Rift Valley were once bold supporters of Ruto until after the handshake between Uhuru and ODM leader Raila Odinga in March 2018.

With Ruto not supporting the Building Bridges Initiative, most governors who were his allies backed the BBI which, culminated in the proposed changes to amend the 2010 Constitution.

The Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2020 is running into headwinds as time is running out for the referendum that was tentatively scheduled for June.

Nanok said they have held several consultative meetings to chart the way forward.

Speaking to the Star on Sunday, the outgoing governor said as President Uhuru is working on his preferred line-up, they are also at liberty to discuss the future of the country.

“About 20 are already on board and three are on their way to join us. They all yearn for a better Kenya where all our efforts will count. President Uhuru is retiring next year and we want a peaceful transition to a new era, a government elected by the people and for the people,” he told the Star on phone.

He said: “We want real change where those in power will not use state privilege to advance personal interests. We need to consult on how to revive the economy that will create jobs for our youth so that we no longer need to rely on huge loans.”

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua who has attended three of the five meetings rubbished the Raila factor in the talks that were held by the DP and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.

Gachagua, a close ally of the DP said there is no discussion for a coalition between Ruto and Raila, noting that Oparanya is charting his own political future.

He said that by end of the year, the governors who have been attending the meetings in secrecy will come out.

“We have had several strategy meetings on how to approach 2022. There is a tier of MPs, MCAs and now governors. Remember that this administration has subjected governors and Cabinet secretaries among others to intimidation and threats of prosecution. That regime is coming to an end soon,” he said.

“Kakamega county has four MPs allied to the DP, they have been talking with their governor who is now in talks with the DP. It is not true to say that Raila has sent him. We have nothing to do with Raila now,” he said.

As Ruto works on his winning formula, a sharp split has hit Raila’s camp as allies pull in different directions over an alleged plan for an alliance with DP.

The former Prime Minister’s close confidants are reading from different scripts over a possible Raila-Ruto alliance for the 2022 General Election.

The differences have triggered a bitter falling out among the ODM boss’ lieutenants with some said to have warned Raila against a pact with the country’s second in command.

ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna said they are crafting an alliance with ‘fresh blood’. 

“We said we will look for fresh blood. We shall look at coalition after BBI,” Sifuna said.

Minority leader John Mbadi, who doubles as ODM national chairman, also dismissed talks of a coalition as misplaced.

“ODM’s priority at the moment is not on building coalitions. We still want to dispense with BBI bill and referendum before we consider 2022 elections and possible coalitions,” Mbadi said.

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