Uhuru and Ruto to seek elders’ blessing

Saturday October 27 2012

PHOTO | FILE Presidential aspirant Uhuru Kenyatta with Agikuyu elder Mwangi Tuita during the launch of The National Alliance party on May 20, 2012.

PHOTO | FILE Presidential aspirant Uhuru Kenyatta with Agikuyu elder Mwangi Tuita during the launch of The National Alliance party on May 20, 2012. NATION MEDIA GROUP

By OLIVER MATHENGE [email protected]

United Republican Party (URP) and The National Alliance (TNA) are preparing to reach out to elders and professionals in an effort to consolidate a deal that seeks to have their party leaders contest the presidency on a joint ticket.

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto were last week reported to have agreed on a joint ticket in the next elections which they consider to be “a referendum on The Hague process”.

They are among four Kenyans facing crimes against humanity charges at The Hague-based court.

Though publicly saying that the deal was still open and their parties are still talking to others, politicians allied to URP and TNA have indicated that the union between Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto was a done deal.

The move to reach out to elders and professionals appears to be motivated by reports of bubbling discontent among the Kalenjin over a power-sharing deal between Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto where the latter is to be the running mate.

To seal the deal, a bonding retreat has been planned in Mombasa for Kikuyu and Kalenjin elders this week. This is to be followed by another meeting bringing together professionals that support the two leaders and their parties.

Insiders have also revealed that there is a planned retreat of MPs who are allied to the two parties to discuss the possibility of holding joint roadshows and rallies. After coming from The Hague for the confirmation hearings, Mr Ruto and Mr Kenyatta held a series of rallies together before moving to strengthen their own parties.

According to Dujis MP Aden Duale of URP, the party is considering coalitions with parties and politicians who can bring support that will ensure “an overwhelming first round win”.

He added that there are 18 safe URP counties and about 80 constituencies in the Rift Valley, Coast and North Eastern.

“We shall only accept someone who will bring at least 25 counties to ensure we easily sail through,” Mr Duale said.

URP’s supporters mainly hail from the Rift Valley while TNA has its main support base in the Mt Kenya region. Both areas have the highest number of voters.

A 10-member team – five from URP and five from TNA – has been mandated to work out the details of the alliance. This is despite Mr Ruto having been offered another deal by Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) where he was previously a deputy leader.

However, URP and TNA are still faced with a challenge in Mr Ruto’s and Mr Kenyatta’s home turfs of Rift Valley and Central Kenya with some key political players trying to defy the wave created by both parties.

Former powerful minister Nicholas Biwott’s National Vision Party (NVP) and the United Democratic Movement (UDM) have entered into a pre-election agreement that could also enjoin the former ruling party Kanu led by Gideon Moi, in an attempt to recapture control of Rift Valley.

In Central Kenya, parties that claim to support Mr Kenyatta including Alliance Party of Kenya, Democratic Party and Grand National Union have refused to join up with TNA for other seats other than the presidency.

To clip the revolt, Mr Ruto and Mr Kenyatta have reportedly agreed to reach out to other parties, including Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Movement party, New Ford Kenya led by Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa, Mr Najib Balala’s Republican Congress Party, Charity Ngilu’s Narc and Ford People.

Earlier last week, officials of TNA and New Ford Kenya held a meeting in which the possibility of a merger was discussed. TNA chairman Johnson Sakaja confirmed the meeting but did not divulge details of the discussions.

There had been perception that Mr Wamalwa would be Mr Kenyatta’s running mate in next year’s elections.

However, this strategy appears to have been shelved as Mr Kenyatta offered Mr Ruto the running mate position with Mr Wamalwa being considered for the position of Leader of Majority in Parliament.