Since 1901

By Osinde Obare

KENYA: Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa’s formal exit from the G7 alliance has thrown a fresh spanner in the works for the Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto’s pact.

Wamalwa quit the alliance expressing his displeasure on the ongoing pre-election talks and claiming he was being treated as a junior partner.

He announced he would now negotiate with other presidential aspirants from the Luhya community (read Musalia Mudavadi?) to agree on a common political agenda.

“We are not going to be treated as junior partners in any political alliance and there is no retreat and no going back. We have to decide on our political destiny,” declared Eugene.

Our sister publication, The Standard on Saturday yesterday exclusively reported how Wamalwa was plotting to flee the union between Deputy Prime

Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto.

Apart from the fresh Wamalwa headache, Uhuru and Ruto are yet to deal with the near explosive disquiet among the Eldoret North MP’s supporters in the Rift valley who have disapproved of the alliance.

Just this week, youths in the region have hit the streets in demonstrations against the alliance with placards bearing the inscriptions Achicha Wendi Kityo (No, he will go alone).

Political analyst, Philip Chebunet, says Eugene’s move was now likely to give the opposition in Rift Valley fresh impetus and further complicate matters for the pact.

 “You will remember that it was Wamalwa who first joined Uhuru and with the likely promise that he would be his running mate. Now that Ruto came in and appears set to be Uhuru’s mate, Wamalwa felt he had no option but to bolt out,” explained the don.

So confident was Eugene in the G7 alliance that during his homecoming party in Kitale after he was appointed Justice Minister, he declared he would not be defending his Saboti seat.

During the party in April, Wamalwa announced that he would relinquish his Saboti seat in the forthcoming General Elections to concentrate on G7 alliance’s national political aspirations.

He also said he would not contest any seat in Trans Nzoia County and asked locals to elect credible leaders to replace him.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank Saboti constituents for electing and supporting me and I hereby ask for your permission to assist my brothers here in the national duty we are seeking,” said Eugene.

The guest of honour at the function was Uhuru, with Wamalwa’s allies thanking him for facilitating the appointment of the Saboti MP to the Cabinet.

Indeed, discerning political analysts saw Uhuru’s hand in Wamalwa’s elevation to the influential cabinet more considering the fact that his appointment coincided with the removal of Mutula Kilonzo, who as minister for Justice had been overly critical of Uhuru over the ICC issue.

Wamalwa’s departure from the G7 alliance now deals a body blow to Uhuru and Ruto who will now most likely rely on their Central and Rift Valley voting blocs, although the latter has shown signs of cracks.

Following Wamalwas’s announcement yesterday at Matunda, it will now remain to be seen what Uhuru and Ruto will do to forestall further fallouts within their ranks.

Sources told the Standard on Sunday that a host of Rift Valley MPs were also uncomfortable with Ruto’s alliance with Uhuru and were quietly consulting on their options.

“We have a few of our colleagues close to him (Ruto) who decided on this thing. I think our political careers hang in the balance because of the opposition we are witnessing at home,” said one MP who declined to be named.

He said Ruto should rethink his political direction and give dialogue and consultation a fresh chance in order to address the growing disquiet in the region.

“He cannot afford to make a blunder this time, especially because of his case at The Hague and I think it about time we leaders in Rift Valley come out and tell him the truth instead of following him blindly,” asserted another legislator from the Rift Valley.

Wamalwa, Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo, and Trade Minister Moses Wetangula are expected to hold joint public rallies in Navakholo, Lurambi constituency where more interesting political developments may be forthcoming.

During a rally dubbed as ‘Matunda declaration’ the two politicians regretted that disunity among Luhya leaders could deny the community its best stab at the presidency.

Wamalwa and Jirongo told the rally that leaders from western region are holding meetings to iron out differences and give direction of the leader whose name will appear at the ballot paper next general elections.

“This is a real force to State House. It is an unstoppable journey and those who think we are still divided are in for a big surprise,” Jirongo declared.

Wamalwa said the community’s quest for the presidency is on the right footing and promised that the name of the person to represent the community in the presidential race will be announced within two weeks.

“There is no retreat and no surrender. We are not going to play the second fiddle as suggested by external forces. Give us two weeks and we will settle on the candidate,” said Eugene.

Wamalwa said some people have taken advantage of the disunity of the community leaders to propagate their political agenda using the community.

“It because of our division that people are seeing us as unfocused but we are warning them that the new force will bring our people together and forge a common political agenda,” said the minister.

For now though, it remains to be seen which direction the Wamalwa-Jirongo duo will take in their quest for Luhya unity. One person who will be watching these developments with bated breath is the leading presidential aspirant from the Luhya community Musalia Mudavadi while Uhuru Kenyatta goes back to the drawing board.