A no-holds-barred political duel is looming ahead of 2022 after a group of Mt Kenya MPs was joined by Wiper, Orange Democratic Movement and Kanu leaders in a campaign against Deputy President William Ruto.
The show of solidarity is a reminiscent of the 2002 alliance that swept Mr Mwai Kibaki to power, analysts say.
While the rallying call in 2002 was constitutional reform, the one shaping for 2022 appears to be corruption and the handshake between President Kenyatta and Mr Raila Odinga.
The alliance was unveiled at Gatanga Catholic Church in Murang’a on Sunday where more than 20 lawmakers were hosted by area MP Nduati Ngugi.
Another group, led by ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna and seven lawmakers from the Coast, separately insisted that Dr Ruto should be impeached.
The central Kenya group opposed to Dr Ruto was initially called Mt Kenya and Diaspora Leaders Forum.
The leaders said they would criss-cross the country and mount pressure on the government to prosecute anyone linked to corruption.
MPs at the Gatanga event were Homa Bay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga, Mr TJ Kajwang (Ruaraka), Mr Caleb Amisi (Saboti), Mr Robert Mbui (Kathiani) and Mr James Nyikal (Seme).
Others were Nominated MP Maina Kamanda, Murang’a Senator Irungu Kangata, Ms Mercy Gakuyo (Kasarani), Mr Maoka Maore (Igembe North), Mr William Kamket (Tiaty), Mr Joshua Kutuny (Cherangany), former Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe and former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth.
The pro-Ruto group, which accompanied him to meetings in Kiambu and Kajiado counties on Sunday, has been seen to oppose the handshake and the war on corruption.
Ms Wanga said the new team reflects the face of Kenya and that it would visit the whole country.
“Before the handshake, the Jubilee and opposition leaders were reading from different scripts. We will not allow a few people to pull us back,” she said.
At Palakumi Secondary School in Kilifi, Mr Sifuna asked: “If a serpent crawls to this meeting, do you think we will have time to consult on how to kill it?”
He added that “the separation of Dr Ruto from public resources is urgent”.
“Every option must be on the table, including forcing him to resign, a possible impeachment, arrest and prosecution,” the ODM official said.
Whereas the DP and his allies have been indecisive about the handshake and calls for constitutional changes, which they view as schemes to scuttle his presidential bid, they insist he is best placed to succeed Mr Kenyatta.
In Kiambu, Mr Ruto told off those planning to move a no-confidence motion against him. “I am the President’s mtu wa mkono (spanner boy). The rest are political con men. Many are applauding President Kenyatta as a good person, yet they took him to the International Criminal Court in The Hague so as to gain political power. Since we have welcomed them, they should go slow,” he said in Kiambaa.
The DP accused the media of propagating lies over his meeting with Mr Kenyatta on Tuesday.
Kiambu Governor Ferdinard Waititu said he and the region are fully behind the DP. “We cannot allow the politics of betrayal that has been associated with central Kenya to flourish,” he said, adding, the narrative had to end with central Kenya supporting Mr Ruto in 2022.
Although the meeting between the President and the DP seemed to have eased tension within Jubilee, the statements by their lieutenants yesterday showed that the rift is growing.
Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro has proposed changes to the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, seen as an attempt to cool political temperatures.
“If a dog barks, look for the owner. The motion by Nyoro is meant to curtail powers of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Director of Public Prosecutions,” Mr Kamanda said.
“The motion emanated from his master because things are getting hot.”
Mr Mbui said President Kenyatta should name corrupt top government officials during his State of the Nation address on Thursday.
The anti-Ruto team, which later held a rally in Gatura, told Mr Kenyatta to stop his constant warnings against Cabinet Secretaries and have them arrested.
Mr Murathe said time has come for everybody linked with corruption to be prosecuted. He added that no one, including Mr Ruto, is above the law.
Mr Murathe said Kenya should follow the example of South Korea “where even presidents are prosecuted and given long jail terms”.
He claimed to have been assured by Mr Kenyatta that action would be taken against the corrupt soon.
Reported by Ndungu Gachane, Samuel Baya and Kennedy Kimanthi