Eldoret North MP William Ruto faces yet another daunting task as he tries to defuse allegations that he is a “State House project.”
The move comes even as the crimes against humanity the International Criminal Court are likely to start after the General Election next year.
Last weekend, Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo claimed that Mr Ruto and Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi were beneficiaries of State House coffers.
Mr Jirongo, a long-time ally of Mr Ruto since the YK’92 outfit, said Mr Mudavadi and Mr Ruto were “government projects” in what is planned to give Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta an edge in the presidential race.
The remark has since generated heat across the Rift Valley political landscape, with a possible backlash from the Mr Ruto’s diehards.
Mr Farouk Kibet, a former nominated councillor, said the remarks will not water down Mr Ruto’s quest for presidency since he and URP wield strong grassroot support.
There has been widespread speculation on whether Mr Ruto was ready to back another member from the G7 Alliance.
“We are certain that Mr Ruto’s train to Statehouse is unstoppable. We even do not think otherwise,” said Mr Kibet.
Mr Kipkorir Menjo, an Eldoret politician, said the “government projects” were naked truth.
“These people are only playing a game of musical chairs. They want to remain in power and preserve it.
According to Dr Joseph Magutt, a political scientist at Kenyatta University, ICC has given Mr Ruto a lifeline in the succession battle since he will not be bogged down with the need to travel for case hearing.
Previously Mr Ruto’s candidacy hanged in the balance following the ICC cases leaving analysts and supporters guessing, even as he remained optimistic that his name would appear on the ballot paper.
“Similarly, this will make his presidential bid more realistic and more appealing to Kenyans hence attracting them to URP,” said Dr Magutt.
Mr Ruto has immense support in the vote-rich Rift Valley and it’s unclear whether he will stretch the strong influence all the way into the ballot box.
But Dr Lukoye Atwoli, a lecturer at Moi University School of Medicine, said the government project claim was two-dimensional.
“Those complaining may have either realized that they are likely to miss a place in the arrangement or they are seeking to reduce their colleagues’ chances and gain mileage. The ruling elite may have decided on who to succeed President Kibaki and that’s entirely possible and we cannot rule it out,” said Dr Atwoli.
About Mr Ruto’s presidential bid he added: “For it is the first time, it’s not easy for him to consolidate the diverse Rift Valley vote into one basket or even use them a bargaining chip”.
Dr Atwoli said that tribal tags and ethnic angles are likely to have little impact in the forthcoming polls, and cannot rule out a possibility of Mr Ruto and Mr Odinga joining forces.
“Tribal angles will be counter productive for any candidate in the new political dispensation. And Raila would rather market himself on an economic platform in the region,” he said.
Mr Jirongo, in the presence of Mr Mudavadi, claimed the government was sponsoring the Sabatia MP alongside other political parties with the aim of enabling DPM Uhuru Kenyatta have an easy ride to State House in the next General Election.
The parties include Party of Action (POA), United Democratic Forum (UDF), United Democratic Republic (URP) and The National Alliance (TNA).
He was speaking during the burial of the late Mzee Livingstone Kibunguchi , father of former Lugari MP Dr Enock Kibunguchi, at his home in Mautuma, Lugari District in Kakamega County.
He likened it to former Zaire President Mobutu Sese Seko who sponsored 20 political parties in order to weaken his opponents.
However, Mr Mudavadi who was present asked Mr Jirongo not to be afraid of him saying that he will serve all Kenyans equally.
He said that he had left ODM and was in UDF where he will seek presidency and has no apology to make.
He said that former President Moi once challenged him and Mr Jirongo at Lumakanda and he wanted to prove his critics wrong.
“Mr Moi told us that we cannot produce a president and I am here to state clearly that we can and I will do it come next year,” said Mudavadi.