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Mixed reactions greet Ruto’s new foray into Western

POLITICS
By Titus Oteba and Jackline Inyanji | Mar 22nd 2015 | 4 min read

Bungoma County, Kenya: Deputy President William Ruto has embarked on a charm offensive to woo western Kenya into the newly formed Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP).

Ruto was last week in the vote rich region, where he promised that New Ford-Kenya leader and former Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa would soon be appointed to a Government position. “We have resolved to bring all parties into JAP so we can be re-elected in 2017. The Luhya community should not be left out by being misled to join other parties,” the DP told residents of Kimatuni in Bungoma County and  Lugari constituency.

“I commend leaders, including MP Ayub Savula (Lugari ), who are working with the Government irrespective of their parties. Residents should support them to ensure the challenges facing them are solved,” he said.

His call did not, however, go down well some leaders who doubt the sincerity and timing of the pronouncements, citing previous pledges that were not honoured by the Jubilee Government.

In April 2013,  Ruto told a gathering on his first visit to the region after the March 4, 2013 elections that Amani coalition leader Musalia Mudavadi would be appointed to the Government. “Mudavadi is our friend, and we have resolved to walk with him... We will not abandon him,” said Ruto at Lumakanda, Lugari, barely a week after the President had named 16 nominees to the Cabinet.

But the other two positions in the 18-member Cabinet were filled by Labour CS Kazungu Kambi, a close ally of Ruto, and Joseph ole Lenku, the former Interior Cabinet Secretary.

Contacted, Mr Wamalwa hinted: “The party leadership and its members are still holding consultations and it is premature to announce that we are joining JAP,” he said.

Savula wants the President and his Deputy to appoint Wamalwa to the Government immediately and not wait until a few months to the 2017 polls. “We shall reject that and take our own political direction. Let them make the appointments now,” said Savula.

Ruto also asked Mudavadi’s United Democratic Front (UDF) to dissolve and move to JAP in readiness for the 2017 elections.

But Mudavadi said he was not keen on joining the new political outfit. “I still stand with UDF as my party. We have an agreement with the Jubilee coalition, not JAP. Therefore, I am not a member or planning to join JAP anytime soon,” he said.

Bumula MP Boniface Otsiula, a close confidant of Wamalwa, told The Standard on Sunday that some leaders believe the DP is the stumbling block to leaders from the former Western province being appointed to key state jobs.

“About three weeks ago, more than 20 leaders from various parties in western Kenya met the DP and discussed Wamalwa and Mudavadi’s positions. Let us give the President and his deputy some time,” Otsiula said.

But Vihiga MP Yusuf Chanzu asked Amani coalition supporters to treat Ruto’s latest promises with a benefit of doubt.

CORD co-principal and Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula was also dismissive of JAP’s new offensive in the region, daring those who want to join the Government to do so.

Last year, Wetang’ula told a meeting in Kitale that the President was playing games with Wamalwa and was not keen on appointing him to any position in Government. “He should have appointed Wamalwa the Attorney General if he was serious,” he said.

And last week, the Bungoma Senator said dissolving the parties affiliated to the ruling Jubilee coalition would signal the end of some politicians. “Let those who want to join Jubilee Alliance Party go. They will be giving us an early Christmas,” said Wetang’ula.

Other leaders from the region also expressed their misgivings on Ruto’s latest promises.

“They are trying to see if they can build a momentum for that new party because the TNA and URP arrangement will not work as many other affiliate parties will also be claiming their stake and that is why Mudavadi and Wamalwa are a target,” said former ODM Western Regional Director Aggrey Azelwa Taikosh.

Taikosh cautioned that Mudavadi and Wamalwa must be careful not to be used and dumped “as had happened in the past”.

Mudavadi was appointed Vice President by former President Daniel arap Moi barely three months before the 2002 elections, while Wamalwa was also appointed Justice Minister in the sunset period of the Kibaki administration.

“They are easily swayed because they forget very quickly despite the ridicule they have gone through over the years. They hardly learn,” he said.

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