Ruto’s allies defy Uhuru call on early campaigns

Sunday May 13 2018

Nandi  leaders

From left, Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, the county’s Jubilee party chairman John Kipchirchir, and Governor Stephen Sang at a fundraiser in Kapsabet on May 6. The leaders claimed there were plans to sabotage Deputy President William Ruto’s presidential ambition. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

OSCAR OBONYO
By OSCAR OBONYO
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There is no denying that Deputy President William Samoei Ruto has the most realistic chance of succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta as Kenya’s fifth President in 2022.

But he has several impediments to circumvent, including a likely collision with his boss, which could prove politically fatal.   

Despite being a front-runner, the DP’s supporters are lately restless. They have kicked off premature presidential campaigns, clearly in disregard to the President’s repeated appeal against politicking.

Some legislators from Rift Valley have reportedly even given the President an ultimatum to state whether or not he will back his deputy’s 2022 presidential bid.

The Nation has established that two days before his presidential victory was voided by the Supreme Court last year, President Kenyatta hosted a Jubilee Parliamentary Group meeting at State House where he stressed that his legacy was going to be priority of his focus during his last term.

LEGACY AGENDA

Multiple sources at the meeting have reliably confirmed to the Nation that the President firmly stated he “will not allow anything to stand in the way of his legacy agenda”.

The President is said to have directly instructed all the legislators to avoid politicking for the next four years to secure his legacy agenda.

“He then stated categorically that he will fight back very hard against any such efforts. And he said all these in the presence of the DP,” recalls a Jubilee allied legislator from Kakamega County.

But Nyeri Town legislator, Mr Ngunjiri Wambugu, who last week excited the social media with a widely circulated “watajua hawajui (they will discover they are unaware)” tweet warning a section of MPs against giving the President ultimatums to declare support for Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid, is unguarded about the subject.   

Mr Wambugu concurs with the  legislator that the President indeed asked for “four years of calm and stability”.

POLITICAL CALM

According to the MP, the President is willing to do anything to get political calm in the next four years.

If Mr Wambugu is to be believed, this is probably part of the persuasions behind the “golden handshake” with Opposition leader, Raila Odinga.

The President, says Mr Wambugu, is also quite clear that he will not be held hostage by 2022 politics. The MP points out that the President repeated these very words on the Harambee House steps during his handshake with Mr Odinga. 

“So these campaigns by Ruto’s people are essentially setting the DP up for a conflict with Uhuru’s system. They are unwise and non-strategic because in such a conflict, a President in his final term has nothing to lose,” argues Wambugu.

ULTIMATUM

But Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruyiot disagrees with Wambugu over the four year politicking ban, claiming it gives unfair advantage to Jubilee’s political rivals, especially the ODM leader.

“Judging from his political activities and pronouncements of his allies, it is now clear that Raila will be running for presidency 2022 and wants to use the opportunity of the handshake to play politics. So why can’t we, as Jubilee leaders, be allowed to do the same?”

What has irked insiders in the President’s camp, is the so-called ultimatum some MPs from Rift Valley allegedly issued to Mr Kenyatta, requiring him to make known his decision on his deputy’s 2022 presidential bid.

Belgut MP Nelson Koech was quoted by sections of the media asking the President “to come out and reassure Rift Valley that the handshake has nothing to do with the 2022 election and will not disrupt the Ruto presidency deal”.

Political analyst, Prof Peter Kagwanja, says Mr Odinga has upped the ante by heightening the scramble for “Kenyatta” (and by extension Mount Kenya communities).

POLITICAL SABOTAGE

Despite the DP enjoying support of elected MPs, governors and senators, Kagwanja observes that the high casualty rate of elected leaders in the region (going by the 2017 count) makes him vulnerable for political sabotage.

Separately, former Cabinet Minister, Prof Amukowa Anangwe, opines that the handshake may have been initiated by Mr Kenyatta’s strategists to achieve two purposes – for the President to team up with Odinga to neutralize Ruto and extinguish the latter’s presidential ambition in 2022 and/or to weaken Mr Odinga politically by “turning him into a Jubilee surrogate that will alienate his traditional political constituency which thrives on anti-Kikuyu sentiments”.