Ruto, Raila craft political strategy for poll contest

The battle lines are getting drawn as political formations for Deputy President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga begin to emerge.

Dr Ruto seems to have thrown caution to the winds and appears to be using a new script with his eyes trained on 2022.

Raila too has gone on the offensive and on Friday, he made a political statement in the guise of popularising the Building Bridges Initiative report.

The ODM leader in a show of might at Kisii Stadium brought together 14 governors and 78 MPs among other leaders.

Raila was in his element at the meeting that has now sent tongues wagging over his possible candidature in the General Election.

In his road map is a referendum this year, a matter that is likely to throw the country into a frenzy that could spill over to the next General Election.

Raila is buoyed by the March 2018 Handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta that has offered him the benefit of State machinery that he will likely enjoy in his subsequent rallies in Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega County and Tononoka Grounds in Mombasa.

Presence of Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’í and Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, a foe-turned-confidant is quite telling in political circles.

Also in Raila’s camp are the three Ukambani governors: Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Prof Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Dr Alfred Mutua (Machakos).

While at a funds drive in Emuhaya, Vihiga County, Ruto dismissed Raila’s Kisii meeting and questioned the use of public resources in the hurriedly convened public barazas in the name of BBI.

“What are all these campaigns for? Who do they want to persuade? Is it a way of misusing government resources?” he posed.

Interestingly, the Tanga Tanga team has been urging the ODM leader to join them.

Although elections are two years away, Ruto is taking nothing to chance and is meticulously planning his presidential bid but what is notable is that he is crafting an image of being his own man, away from the shadow of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration.

Having probably given up on a possible endorsement by President Kenyatta, the DP has decided to go flat out and solidify his political base.

His allies are also working to extricate themselves from the possible “baggage” that will be associated with the incumbency of Jubilee Party when President Kenyatta retires in August 2022.

The leaders believe the Handshake between Kenyatta and Raila is a godsend, a window for them to free themselves from possible Jubilee failures and they have cast the former Prime Minister as the impediment to implementation of Jubilee agenda.

While addressing residents in Nyandarua County, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria said that the genesis of the problems in Jubilee Party was the entry of Raila through the Handshake.

Facing repression

“We were working well until Raila came and today we have a disunity in the party. I hope they will retire with the president in 2022,” Mr Kuria said.

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro insisted that the DP has been sidelined after the Handshake and the opposition leader was rocking the Jubilee government to ensure that it is seen as a failed administration.

“We had a united party under the able leadership of President Kenyatta before busybodies hijacked our party,” Mr Nyoro said.

Raila does not see this as a political problem and instead is using it for political gain as he continues to attract Jubilee leaders including Waiguru and Nominated MP Maina Kamanda.

For weeks, Kandara MP Alice Wahome, a Ruto ally, has been tearing into President Kenyatta’s leadership style.

Ms Wahome told a press conference at a Malindi hotel that the Head of State had messed up a thriving economy and rich democracy he inherited from Mwai Kibaki. But it is her reference to Raila as a hired mercenary that was indicative of the political nature of the statement. “Raila Odinga is Uhuru’s new political mercenary for hire, and the BBI report is the special-purpose vehicle heading to the route that has been suggested by Murathe, Atwoli and Beth Mugo,” Wahome said.

On Friday, Kabete MP Kamau Ichung’wah claimed that they were facing repression because of their support for the DP, a factor that was reversing democratic gains.

Political analyst Javas Bigambo says that the push for referendum and its subsequent campaigns, if it comes to pass, will trigger a craze that will spill over to the polls. “If we are not careful this could be a slow start to the 2022 campaigns, there will be no going back after the plebiscite campaigns if it comes,” Bigambo said.

As the political formations come out, the position of President Kenyatta in the matrix continues to cause confusion. The Tanga Tanga team is spreading a narrative that the country is back to the “dark” days owing to the “persecution” of Ruto’s foot soldiers.

The Raila team ironically believes he has the president’s ear and meetings to popularise the BBI report have his blessings. They claim that President Kenyatta needs to be insulated from an “overambitious” DP.

Nakuru West MP Samuel Arama and his Borabu counterpart Ben Momanyi are even calling for the clipping of Ruto’s powers by introducing a law to allow the president to sack his deputy.

“As it is, the president cannot fire his deputy because there is no law guiding him on the matter. Like what we are witnessing, where the DP is dancing to his own tune when his boss is playing the fiddle alone is a situation that should be tamed through properly constituted laws. But unfortunately, we don’t have the same and it shall only be through the BBI referendum,” Arama said.

“The moment you declare your support for the DP, your problems start, look at Kuria (Gatundu South MP). He was doing fine until he showed his political allegiance,” Ichung’wah claimed..

Kuria was arrested on Friday morning and held at Kilimani Police Station for allegedly fighting a woman in a local media house. He was released last evening.

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