Coast MPs who have been coalescing around Deputy President William Ruto are today set to table a list of demands they want fulfilled before they back his 2022 presidential bid.
Top on the list, to be handed to the DP when he visits Kilifi County today, is that the region be considered in government appointments.
Kilifi North MP Owen Baya, one of the MPs who has lately switched his support to Mr Ruto after ditching Opposition leader Raila Odinga, will host the DP in Kilifi town today.
The DP is expected to lead a fundraiser in aid of a project to translate the Bible into Giriama language at the Karisa Maitha football pitch in Kilifi town.
It will be Mr Ruto’s ninth visit to the region since the March 9 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.
Mr Ruto’s tour comes only two days after President Kenyatta froze all new government projects until ongoing ones are complete, a move likely to complicate the DP’s engagement with the Coast region.
This is because Mr Ruto has routinely sought the region’s support on the basis of the development projects the government has initiated, deliberately shunning politics.
Among other issues, the leaders want Mr Ruto to intervene and ensure more Coast people land government appointments.
Mr Baya, who has already declared his interest for the 2022 Kilifi gubernatorial seat currently held by Governor Amason Kingi, said he will demand that Mr Ruto addresses the land problem in his backyard. “Kilifi North has many land problems and I have persistently asked the DP to pay us a visit and address this issue. We need our people to be empowered and given title deeds so that they can develop their land,” said Mr Baya in an interview.
Mr Baya was among several Coast MPs who protested the exclusion of people from the region in the appointments made by President Kenyatta last week. The MPs accused Mr Ruto and Mr Odinga of failing to push for the appointment of Coast people despite their huge influence in government.
“The lesson we have now is that we need to bargain for ourselves and no one else from outside the region can pretend to bargain for us,” Mr Baya said.
On Saturday, several MPs said they will use today’s function to take Mr Ruto to task over his failure to ensure that Coast people get top national government appointments.
They said they will not hesitate to tell the DP to push for top government slots if he wants to get the region’s support in the 2022 elections.
Magarini MP Michael Kingi said he will attend the meeting with a list of demands the DP must address.
“At the moment, Mr Ruto has power to push for appointment of people from the region because he is currently getting support from Coast legislators. Because he is second in command, he can easily tell the President to appoint a person from the region if he really has our interests at heart,” he said.
“But he has been quiet yet the government is making these changes. This again tells us that we are out of the picture and this will only be addressed if we form our own ship and be partners in the next government,” said Mr Kingi.
Ganze MP Teddy Mwambire also complained about the government’s failure to appoint people from the region. “The failure by the region to bag any appointment is a wake-up call that we should not blindly support people without understanding their mission,” Mr mwambire said. “We should not make ourselves cheap by supporting people without clear guidelines.”
Kilifi South MP Ken Chonga said despite Mr Ruto making several trips to the region, he has failed to push for appointment of locals in government, sending a clear message that he does not have their interests at heart but is only interested in their votes.
“This is pure marginalisation and surprisingly the DP is busy chasing votes in the region and forgetting serious issues like appointments, land problems and economic empowerment that need to be addressed. Because of that, we have decided that we must form our own party and be partners in the 2022 government,” he said.