Uhuru moves to lock Ruto out of Machakos

Wednesday, March 17th, 2021 08:00 |
Maendeleo Chap Chap party leader Alfred Mutua (centre) addressing a press conference in Machakos yesterday after the party’s flag bearer in the forthcoming senatorial by-elections Mutua katuku withdrew from the race. Photo/PD/Peter Mwangangi

Mercy Mwai and Mutuku Mwangangi

Machakos senatorial candidate Mutua Katuku yesterday pulled out of the race, barely two hours after President Uhuru Kenyatta held a virtual meeting of the leading political party leaders, during which issues around tomorrow’s mini-poll were discussed.

The dramatic withdrawal by Katuku, a day to elections, is likely to be a major boost for Wiper candidate Agnes Kavindu, who will be running against Urbanus Ngengele of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) that is associated with Deputy President (DP) William Ruto.

Yesterday’s meeting brought together ODM leader  Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Narc’s Charity Ngilu, Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula and Gideon Moi of Kanu.  

The Big Seven have closed ranks in support of Kavindu, in a move that is meant to stem Ruto’s efforts to make inroads in Ukambani, which is Kalonzo’s backyard as well as confront his defiance of the President.

A statement by the State House spokesperson said the leaders discussed the surge in Covid-19 infections in the country and asked all politicians to lead in observing health protocols to prevent further spread of the disease.

Divisive politics

“In light of the above, the meeting , the President urged all their political affiliates and supporters, especially in Machakos, to find a peaceful, amicable and uniting way forward during the upcoming by-elections,” said State House spokesperson Kanze Dena.

The meeting was convened as a follow-up to the one held on February 25,  to review the surge of Covid-19 infections across our nation. 

The meeting considered the evolution of Covid-19 disease within our borders and noted with concern that Covid-19 infections were increasing at an alarming rate. 

Addressing the press after Katuku’s surprise move, Maendeleo Chap Chap party leader Alfred Mutua, who was flanked by the candidate, former Machakos county Woman Representative Susan Musyoka and Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo, said the decision was in line with President Uhuru’s call for friendly political parties work together in the forthcoming by-election. 

Mutua said time had come to end the culture of divisive politics which have in the past been governed by the winner-take-all culture.

“Regarding Machakos, we believe our candidate has the best chance to clinch the Senate seat.

Maendeleo Chap Chap party supported the re-election of President Uhuru and in the spirit of consistency, we support his development agenda and the political stability of the nation,” said Mutua.

“In this regard, so as to ensure that the national unity agenda succeeds, and that detractors such as UDA, do not get an opportunity to roll back the achievements so far, Maendeleo Chap Chap Party extends goodwill to the President, to Raila Odinga and other BBI partners by withdrawing its candidate from the forthcoming by-election,” he said.

And Katuku told People Daily that the decision had been reached on Uhuru’s request.

The Machakos seat fell vacant after the death of Boniface Kabaka.  

Kalonzo, Mudavadi, Moi and Wetang’ula last Friday pitched tent in the county to drum up support for Kavindu.

Yesterday’s meeting between Uhuru and the party leaders was a follow up to the February 25 talks, where the President met the leading politicians to discuss ways to roll out joint countrywide tours to drum up support for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

After the meeting at State House, Nairobi, Moi read a joint statement affirming their commitment to the constitutional changes envisaged in the BBI.

 “To this end we shall hold a joint consultative meeting on the March 9, 2021, involving Members of Parliament and counties leadership,” Moi stated then.

 Apart from Covid 19 infections and the Machakos by-election, sources close to some of the party leaders revealed that yesterday’s meeting also discussed the BBI Bill that is before the Senate and National assembly and which is currently undergoing public participation.

Very fruitful

DP Ruto was once again missing in action, just like it happened during the previous meeting. When contacted yesterday, Mudavadi confirmed that they participated in the virtual meeting.

“We heard a virtual meeting, a very fruitful one, the statement from the presidential spokesperson accurately captures what transpired,” he said without divulging further details. 

During the virtual meeting, the leaders also raised concerns that hospital beds especially Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds, were filling up in public and private hospitals.

 “The meeting considered the evolution of Covid-19 disease and urged Kenyans to remain on high alert, to exercise extreme caution and be aware of the Covid-19 reality and to do their utmost to observe all Covid-19 protocols. It urged all political players to take the lead in the observation of Covid-19 protocols,” the statement added.

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