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Ruto wades into a storm as Jubilee leaders flex muscle

By Jacob Ng’etich and Jonathan Komen | Published Sun, January 14th 2018 at 00:00, Updated January 13th 2018 at 23:34 GMT +3
Deputy President William Ruto (centre), Mount Kenya University chairman Simon Gicharu (left) and Githunguri MP Gabriel Kago at the burial of Dr Gicharu’s mother in Gathiruini, Kiambu County, January 13. [DPPS]

After a decade running the shows on the political scene – including sealing two victories for President Uhuru Kenyatta – Deputy President William Ruto now navigates iin uncharted waters.

Mr Ruto, a shrewd politician, remains the kingmaker in Jubilee Party’s victories that denied his former boss, NASA leader Raila Odinga the presidency in two elections. But he now finds himself in an awkward position.

There is political tension and disunity within Jubilee, especially among Rift Valley MPs and some Mt Kenya elected leaders, and losers in elections have been categorical that the region’s support is not guaranteed in 2022.

Recently, Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter was elected chair of parliamentary Labour committee, Silas Tiren (Moiben) was picked to head the Agriculture committee while Bowen Kangogo (Marakwet East) vice chair for Environment, Water and Natural Resources committee.

The three MPs were de-whipped by the party after they defied the leadership on the proposed names for the House teams.

On Thursday, the DP in a bid to quell the rising political tension hosted a meeting at his Karen home in Nairobi where more than 20 MPs turned up.

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After the meeting that ended at 3pm, Ruto and the MPs convened another one at a Nairobi hotel that went up to midnight.

The meeting that was meant to be a forum to ‘mend fences’ turned into a shouting match which at some point degenerated into an ugly spat between Ruto and an MP from his Uasin Gishu County.

According to an MP, who sought anonymity, a furious Ruto told Moiben MP Silas Tiren to his face that he could take him on politically.

“The DP had asked Tiren to resign from the parliamentary Agriculture Committee. But Tiren vowed not to resign saying he was an elected leader and dared Ruto to take him on politically,” the MP told Sunday Standard.

Mr Kangogo confirmed that indeed the meeting was heated.

“I attended part of the meeting and nothing was agreed about us relinquishing our positions in parliamentary committees,” he said.

Only Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet), MPs Caleb Kositany (Soy), Julius Meli (Tindiret) and David Pkosing (Pokot South) remained behind with the DP after the acrimonious meeting.

Yesterday, Mr Keter said it was wrong for the Executive to interfere with House business.

“It is very unfair and wrong. Parliament must remain independent always," he said in apparent reference to the call to quit from the house team.

Away from his political bedrock in Rift Valley, an MP from Mount Kenya region recently said Ruto was not guaranteed region's support in 2022.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu in an opinion in a local daily said the region would back someone who will support President Kenyatta to deliver his legacy.

“We in Mt Kenya, and particularly I, will vote for someone who is committed to ensuring Kenyatta puts up his legacy,” he said.

But in an interview with the Sunday Standard, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said Ruto was a politician with nine lives.

“Ruto is a politician who thinks and plans strategically. He’s a very influential person who has been a king maker; who has made others Opposition leaders and another one President,” said Mr Duale.

Through his political life, he said, the DP has built a political base and networks across the country that gives him an edge over his challengers.

In a bid to drown Wambugu’s voice, yesterday elected leaders from Kiambu County assured Ruto of their support in 2022.

Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi told the DP not to be distracted by some few individuals whose focus was not development.

He was speaking at a Kiambu County Education forum where Ruto attended.

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu said Mt Kenya region would play a greater role in ensuring Ruto succeeds President Kenyatta.

“I want to assure the DP to continue serving Kenyans and ignore those engaging in rhetoric,” said Mr Waititu.

Kiambu MP Jude Njomo and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria said voters in Central would not be misled to support another candidate in 2022.


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