Parties gang up to clip Ruto wings at March by-elections
Anthony Mwangi and George Kebaso
Key political parties have ganged up against Deputy President William Ruto in the upcoming by-elections in Machakos county, Kabuchai and Matungu constituencies in a move aimed to clipping his political wings.
While Ruto has indicated that he will field candidates in all the contests through the newly minted United Democratic Alliance (UDA), his rivals elected to withdraw their contestants in strategic races in favour of parties under the ‘Handshake’ umbrella.
The move clearly paves the way for a direct contest between Ruto and an alliance of Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Party, the Moses Wetangula-led Ford Kenya and Amani National Congress of Musalia Mudavadi in the mini-polls with the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) not keen to take a similar path.
Yesterday, Jubilee Secretary Raphael Tuju announced that the ruling party will not field candidates in Machakos, Kabuchai and Matungu polls in solidarity with parties they are cooperating with under the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
The move, which drew immediate welcome from Mudavadi and Kalonzo, effectively handed advantage to ANC in Matungu, Ford Kenya in Kabuchai and Wiper in the Machakos senate seat.
The move is the result of the DPs allies daring the three party leaders to a contest in their backyards.
“During this period of constructive engagement with other parties in the spirit of BBI, it has been found prudent that we keep off the by-elections,” Tuju said.
Respect the pact
He said he expects the other ‘Handshake” parties to respect the pact and pave the way for one candidate to take part in the by elections in respective electoral areas.
“We are currently enjoying a period of constructive engagement with the Wiper Party, ODM, ANC and other parties especially in the BBI,” he said at the Jubilee headquarters.
Following the announcement, Mudavadi swiftly tweeted: “Jubilee Party announced today that it has resolved to support the ANC party candidate, Peter Oscar Nabulindo, for the March 4 Matungu by-election.
We in ANC welcome this move with utmost humility. This is an extension of what our brothers and sisters in Ford Kenya did.
We also reiterate that as a party we support Ford-K for the by-election in the Kabuchai parliamentary seat.
We stand by our pronouncement. Hivi ndivyo daraja za undugu zinajengwa na pia kukomaa kwa demokrasia (that is how bridges of brotherhood are constructed and maturity in democracy)”
To ensure their parties retain the seats they lost through the deaths of MPs from their parties, Ford Kenya in Kabuchai and ANC in Matungu, Mudavadi and Wetangula reached a trade-off not to compete against each for respective seats.
UDA has already nominated Evans Kakai to run in Kabuchai while little-known Wamukoya Lanya will fight to wrest the Matungu seat out of Mudavadi’s party.
On its part, ODM has already cleared candidates to vie for both Matungu and Kabuchai as well as four wards despite being in a pact with the Jubilee Party and other (National Super Alliance) Nasa coalition parties not to participate in elections previously held by the other.
The move is largely attributable to the ODM “big brother attitude” amongst the Nasa siblings.
Ruto’s allies led by Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa and former senators Boni Khalwale (Kakamega) and Johnstone Muthama (Machakos) have dared the ‘Handshake’ camp for a duel for the seats. UDA is set to unveil its candidate for the March 18 Machakos poll today.
But speaking while presenting the nomination certificate to its candidate yesterday, Kalonzo warned Machakos residents to resist Ruto’s overtures.
Incidentally, Wiper Party, handed the ticket to Agnes Kavindu, the former wife of Muthama.
The elections were occasioned by the deaths of Machakos Senator Boniface Kabaka, Matungu MP Justus Murunga and Kabuchai MP James Lusweti.
Kalonzo also applauded the Jubilee Party decision not to field a candidate for the Machakos by-election.
“We thank Jubilee for heeding to our arrangement not to field a candidate in Machakos and we are going to work closely,” he said.
Kalonzo said he had agreed with Mudavadi and Wetangula to support them in Matungu and Kabuchai.
“We have a gentleman’s agreement that we will not field candidates for the two constituencies.
I am going to work with my brothers, in Kabuchai and Matungu. We have decided to move as a team,” he said at party headquarters
Kalonzo cautioned Machakos residents to be wary of “political conmen disguised as associates” who, he said, had nothing to show for the said friendship.