Deputy President William Ruto has cancelled a planned trip to Murang’a today to avoid a clash of itinerary with the President's.
Earlier Saturday, some of his handlers had indicated that he would visit the region but he would skip the church service-cum fundraiser he was scheduled to attend in Kandara and join President Uhuru Kenyatta at ACK Kenol, but his spokesman David Mugonyi later told the Sunday Nation that the DP had decided to shelve the visit altogether.
"The answer as to whether the Deputy President will be visiting Murang’a is ‘no’, nothing more," Mr Mugonyi said curtly when contacted.
Another close aide of the DP said that he had not been aware that the President would be touring the area around the time he was scheduled to attend the fundraiser.
"We would not want to be seen as subjecting the two to supremacy contests of sorts," he said.
His change of plan, we learnt, was informed by a policy he adopted not to appear to antagonise the President in his backyard, a constituency upon which he hopes to ride to State House in the next General Election. The DP is betting big on the central Kenya support to boost his presidential bid and has attended dozens of functions there since 2013.
Reports of the parallel visits elicited mixed reactions about the working relationship of the country's top leadership at a time when speculation is rife that the marriage is on the rocks.
Unlike the past, when the two "brothers" toured the region together, wearing similar attire to demonstrate their closeness, since the 2018 March "handshake" between President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, things seem to have fallen apart.
While Dr Ruto and his lieutenants have remained speculative on the handshake, the President has stood his ground on his efforts to unite the country.
In June, the President vowed to crush anyone who would stand in his way of uniting the country and accused some Mt Kenya leaders of defying him, even after riding on his coat-tails to elective positions.
Some of President Kenyatta’s supporters have continued to castigate the Deputy President, accusing him of dividing his boss’s stronghold due to his 2022 presidential ambitions.
Some leaders and political pundits have interpreted the two leaders’ visit to Muranga for different functions as the strongest signal of their falling out.
Gatanga MP Nduati Ngugi said it would be an act of defiance to the country’s leader if his deputy were to go to a church function apart from the President’s.
“I don’t think Dr Ruto knew the President was coming, but after confirmation that the boss will be in Murang’a, he has no choice but to cancel his visit to a later date and join the Head of State,” the MP said.
Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata, who is hosting the President, also said it appeared that Dr Ruto was not aware of the President’s visit.
Mathioya MP Peter Kimari blamed his Kandara counterpart Alice Wahome for planning to host the DP with the full knowledge that the President was visiting.
“I blame the organiser. She has been demonstrating defiance lately, and that’s probably the reason for organising the event,” he told the Sunday Nation.
He said Dr Ruto would be surprised as all Murang’a leaders will be accompanying the President to Kenol.