Ruto courts new groups ahead of his presidential bid

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020 19:19 |

By Peter Leftie and Noah Cheploen

Pushed to the wall by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his lieutenants, Deputy President William Ruto seems to have has retreated to the Church as he weighs his political options.

Yesterday, Ruto held meetings with delegations of church leaders from Kirinyaga and Embu counties, with sources in attendance saying the discussions centred on various development projects the DP had initiated in the two counties.

It was the second time Ruto was holding a meeting with religious leaders in just under a week. Last week, the DP held talks with leaders of the East Africa Pentecostal Church from Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Nairobi and Isiolo counties at his Karen residence.

“The government appreciates the partnership and friendship of the Church with the State in the provision of healthcare and education to the community. Towards this end, we will support the Church in coming up with various income-generating activities to help them run their social programmes,” Ruto said yesterday.

The DP has been in the middle and appeared helpless in the face of a ruthless purge by President Kenyatta that has seen Ruto’s key allies removed from crucial leadership positions in the Senate and National Assembly.

Political observers have been pondering the DP’s next move after he hosted a group of Jubilee rebel MPs at Jubilee Asili Centre, the home of a new political outfit, signalling that he could be exploring a fall-back vehicle in case he is denied the ruling party ticket for the 2022 election.

Besides church leaders, the DP has also been hosting youths in business to whom he has been making donations.

Having fallen out dramatically with his boss, political pundits have been debating how long the DP will remain restrained in an increasingly polarised political partnership.

Ruto’s pointman in the Luhya community, former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, warned that the DP’s support ers will not relent in their push to have him succeed Uhuru in 2022, despite the tribulations he was facing at the hands of the State.

Khalwale vowed to soldier on with his quest to campaign for Ruto in the face of a recent push by Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli to sell government projects in the region.

Last week, a section of leaders from the region allied to the Atwoli-Oparanya-Wamalwa axis reportedly held a meeting with Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i with a view to identifying and prioritising development projects in the region.

The move was seen as calculated to steal the thunder from Ruto who has in the last two years criss-crossed the region launching development projects with a view to endearing himself to the local population ahead of the 2022 election.

Abandoned by allies Two weeks ago, Dr Khalwale was briefly arrested for engaging in a meet the people tour at Malinya trading centre, Ikolomani constituency, to campaign for Ruto. “Until they jail us, we will continue campaigning for Ruto across the country; for every rally they hold, I will hold two.

What gives us comfort is the confirmation that ours is the candidate to beat,” he added. But according to Dr Michael Mugo of the Dialogue Foundation, Ruto has been living a lie and more of his allies are likely to abandon him in coming days.

“The President in the first term ceded some space for the DP which made him to act as co-president. The DP used the delegated power to recruit troops in places such as Western Kenya, Mt Kenya and Rift Valley. He also used some cash to rent some ethnic leaders. With the power gone, the DP has nothing to offer them,” Mugo told the People Daily.

“He used some politicians to push the narrative that the President had neglected Central Kenya while he launched national government projects. He is now relying on religious leaders who politicians have been using to sanitise dirty money.”

While some observers have hinted the DP may opt to resign and hit the ground to energise his base, others offer that he could stay in the government as he weighs his options ahead of the next election.

More on National