The 2022 presidential campaigns took centre stage on Friday as politicians supporting President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga and those allied to Deputy President William Ruto held separate rallies to drum up support for their camps.
The rallies saw Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege ditch Mr Ruto’s camp to support the handshake while in Kapenguria, and West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo dump Kanu to back the DP.
Speaking at Kenol trading centre in Murang’a, Ms Waiguru vowed to rally behind President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.
Ms Waiguru, who has been Mr Ruto’s key ally in the Mt Kenya, accused the DP of engaging in premature campaigns and undermining the President.
The governor was in a team of women leaders from various parts of the country who converged at Kenol trading centre to launch a new outfit dubbed “Team Embrace’ to rally support for the handshake.
Others in attendance included Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga, her Wajir counterpart Fatuma Gedi and Likoni MP Mishi Mboko.
Ms Waiguru took a swipe at leaders from Mt Kenya who were openly campaigning for Mr Ruto while President Kenyatta was still in office.
She told those with presidential ambitions to shelve them until 2022.
“Even when the Deputy President was coming for negotiations (with President Kenyatta), he came with conditions, we shall also come with our conditions to see who to support in 2022,” she warned.
The governor, who spoke in Kikuyu stated: “Even the former Presidents had their deputies who did not campaign when they were in power. Let us wait and we shall organise ourselves in future."
Ms Waiguru added that Team Embrace supported the referendum and that it would dictate the region’s stake in future governments.
“We should be discussing the referendum in this country and not 2022 politics because the region should be mindful of its stake after the expiry of President Kenyatta’s term,” she said.
Mrs Wanga told locals that they were ready to deal with Dr Ruto should he “play games” with the President.
“I was opposed to President Kenyatta and was the number one defender of Raila Odinga and since Mr Odinga joined hands with the President, I have to support him. If Mr Ruto comes between us, we shall deal with him,” she said.
But in Kapenguria, West Pokot, where Mr Ruto opened a multipurpose social hall at Tamkal Secondary School in Sigor Constituency, and a twin laboratory at Kapenguria Boys high school, Prof Lonyangapuo led dozens of leaders from the North Rift in drumming up support for the DP’s 2022 presidential bid.
The governor, elected on a Kanu ticket and a close ally of Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, spoke publicly for the first time in support of Mr Ruto’s candidature.
He was joined by Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok who said their support for the DP was unwavering.
The leaders, who vowed to marshal all votes for the DP, promised not to support anyone who had not carried out a development project in the region.
“In 2022, don’t touch Prof Lonyangapuo and Mr Ruto. We have no time for beautiful stories. We want development,” said Prof Lonyangapuo.
Mr Nanok said that all communities in the North Rift region would support the DP for the presidency.
“We have been differing with the our Pokot neighbours politically but this time round we are going to go the same direction. We have ensured that all governors from the North Rift region are behind DP Ruto,” he said.
Kacheliba MP Mark Lomunokol asked those against the DP to be ready for a fierce battle in 2022.
“We have no other option and we shall give all our votes to the DP. We are not ready for vitendawili and royal families,” said Lomunokol.