The supremacy battle pitting Deputy President William Ruto against Baringo Senator Gideon Moi reared its ugly head again Wednesday when the DP was allegedly prevented from visiting retired President Daniel arap Moi at his Kabarak home to mourn his son Jonathan Moi’s demise.
There were conflicting reports on why Dr Ruto went to Jonathan’s Kabimoi, Baringo County, home to pass his tributes instead of Kabarak, where other leaders, including President Uhuru Kenyatta, had paid their last respects.
While sources close to the former President’s family confided to the Nation that Dr Ruto had been told to go where the mourners were (Jonathan’s home), Dr Ruto’s spokesman David Mugonyi insisted his boss had no intention of visiting Kabarak as his itinerary included only two places he was to visit — Kabimoi, to mourn Jonathan’s death, and Kuresoi, to condole with the family of Kipkalya Kones, who lost a daughter.
All in all, Dr Ruto’s decision to visit Kabimoi instead of Kabarak has been interpreted to mean the continuation of a well-calculated plan to isolate him.
President Kenyatta was hosted by the Moi family at Kabarak on Monday.
The Head of State, who was received by Senator Moi before holding talks with the retired President, was accompanied by Baringo Governor Stanley Kiptis, MPs Moses Lessonet (Eldama Ravine), Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira) and Caleb Kositany (Soy). Mr Lessonet was also in Dr Ruto’s entourage on Wednesday.
Last year, Dr Ruto failed to meet the ailing former President, leading to a political storm between Jubilee and Kanu leaders in the Rift Valley.
At the time, Mr Moi’s family spokesman Lee Njiru confirmed that DP Ruto had visited but did not see the 94-year-old as he was with his doctors.
“Unfortunately, this coincided with the time of Mzee Moi's routine physical exercise with his doctors. Mzee Moi agreed to meet the visitors at a convenient time another day in the very near future,” a statement from Mr Moi’s office said.
Jonathan, popularly known as JT, died in Nakuru last Friday. Although some leaders have said the visits should not be politicised, it is thought that the former President will have a bigger say in shaping the succession politics ahead of the 2022 General Election.
DP Ruto and Senator Moi are both eyeing the presidency and have fought for control of the Rift Valley votes to use as their base.
Dr Ruto is keen on inheriting President Kenyatta’s support and penetrating perceived opposition zones.
But President Kenyatta’s supporters, especially in the Mt Kenya region, have been giving mixed signals on Dr Ruto’s backing, with the Head of State stating that his choice for the top seat would surprise many.
New political realignments have also seen President Kenyatta working closely with opposition leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Senator Moi.
Senator Moi, who has been working on strengthening Kanu and building bridges across the country in a bid to capture the presidency, met Mr Musyoka and ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi at his father’s Kabarak home, triggering a wave of speculation that the Moi, Odinga and Kenyatta families might be plotting a major political move ahead of 2022.
At Kabimoi, Dr Ruto, who arrived at the home at around 3:40pm, was received by Jonathan’s widow Sylvia Toroitich before holding a private meeting with the family.
He later addressed mourners and urged Kenyans to prioritise cancer screening as the government improves strategies to battle the killer disease.
Dr Ruto, while revealing that he lost his younger brother to cancer, said screening helps doctors detect the disease early thereby improving a patient’s survival chances.
Mr Ruto described Jonathan as his friend and a humble and hard-working man. He asked Kenyans to continue praying with the Moi family.
Jonathan will be buried at his Kabimoi home on Saturday.