New headwinds for Deputy President Ruto in Mt Kenya region
Deputy President William Ruto is facing a fresh headache in his bid to market the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) in Mt Kenya after some of his key allies in the region launched an ambitious campaign push for political unity.
The move by Ruto’s allies, who said they are also out to push for local interests, could injure the DP’s plan to seize and control the region ahead of next year’s General Election.
Former Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, who have been Ruto’s staunch supporters, yesterday teamed up with Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua and not only refused to bow to pressure by Ruto’s allies to fold their respective parties and join UDA, but also said they would be reaching out to other leaders in the region irrespective of their political affiliation to create a joint regional political forum.
At a jointpress conference in Nairobi, the trrio told reporters that they would woo leaders from Mt Kenya region regardless of their political leanings, to come together in a unity of purpose.
They expect their efforts to lead them into holding a series of meetings that will conclude with a conference in Limuru, Kiambu county, where a major declaration would be made.
“We commit ourselves to reach out to other leaders to broaden this forum and deepen our unity of purpose.
We recognise that there are other leaders, who include but are not limited to religious, processional, youth, business and many others who we will reach out to.
This initiative, in the next three months, will culminate in the Limuru Three conference where we will be able to make resolutions and agreements on how to conduct our affairs,” Karua said.
Kiunjuri and Kuria, who have been angling to be Ruto’s running mate, are among leaders considered as the DP’s pillars in the region, with the latter having campaigned for UDA in the recent Kiambaa by-election.
Both have, however, declined to join UDA and have insisted that Mt Kenya should have its own parties, while Karua is on record saying that Ruto was unsuitable for the presidency.
Kiunjuri is the leader of The Service Party (TSP) while Kuria is associated with Chama Cha Kazi (CCK). Karua has been leader of Narc Kenya for 16 years.
According to Kiunjuri, who was sacked from the Cabinet by President Uhuru Kenyatta over his alleged relationship with Ruto, they plan to reach out to other political players to achieve their objective.
The leaders said they would not leave out Jubilee Party, which they fell out with over succession politics, on grounds that their primary mission “is to look at the interests of our region first.”
“This is an initiative that has been born today; the same way Jesus started the gospel in Judea while on his way from Bethlehem.
Today we have started the gospel in Judea to unite our region. We are allocating ourselves duties to approach other people and in the next three months, you will see us culminating in Limuru Three.
We have faith that we shall convince others because this is a journey that we must walk together,” said Kiunjuri.
He added: “This caucus will invite all like-minded leaders and political parties from Mt Kenya region.
We recognise that UDA is a political party represented in Mt Kenya region, and so we are also going to invite them to this forum.
We recognise that Jubilee is also a party recognised in Mt Kenya region, and we are going to invite them to this forum. And many others.”
In what could injure the campaign to make UDA a dominant outfit in Mt Kenya by Ruto’s allies, among them Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata, MPs Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira), Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu) and Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), who have been insisting that Ruto supporters must work under one umbrella and not coalition of parties, Karua backed Kiunjuri and Kuria’s push that the region should have its own parties.
“The Constitution says that Kenya is a multiparty democracy; which we must safeguard by building our political parties.
It took us a long time to return the country to plural politics, and so our coming together does not mean dissolutions of our parties.
It just means being able to work together on issues of common interest. Our parties must survive,” she said
Kiunjuri said Narc Kenya, CCK and his party would participate in next year’s election, and “there is no question about it”, adding: “It is not whether we are hesitating to join any other political dispensation or we are adamant. The decision is made.”
Recently, Kuria said the region should form its own political party, which the leader would use to negotiate for positions in the next government.
Kuria likened joining UDA to a bride’s family riding in the groom’s car to dowry negotiations, which lowers her dignity and weakens her peoples’ bargaining power.
The groom, in Kuria’s context, is the Deputy President who is seeking the region’s support in his presidential bid and the Mt Kenya voter is the bride, while the dowry to be negotiated is the formation of the next government and the groom’s Mercedes car is UDA, which is now being popularised by Ruto.