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2022 debate: Have Mt Kenya leaders openly defied Uhuru?

POLITICS
By Allan Mungai | November 18th 2018

Leaders from Mt Kenya appear to have openly defied a directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta seeking to gag them on commentating or politicking on his succession.

President Kenyatta recently delivered a stinging rebuke to the legislators, most of whom have have been vocal in airing their views about 2022, after a meeting in Nyeri but his words seem to have been of little effect.

In arguably one of his firmest and most loaded statements made in his political bedrock, the President, who sought to reassert his authority, lambasted the region’s politicians for shirking their elective responsibility and prematurely focusing on his succession.

The question was whether the politicians who the President called out for their “endless 2022politics and loitering” would abide by the gag order.

When Deputy President William Ruto visited Nyeri last weekend to participate in the inaugural Dr Wahome Gakuru Half Marathon and fundraising in two churches, the politicians who accompanied him were their classic selves, waxing indignant about the 2022 elections.

A similar spirit pervaded at the funeral of Ruto’s aide Farouk Kibet’s father at Chepsaita in Uasin Gishu where vocal MPs from Mt Kenya and Rift Valley insisted the 2022 debate must be kept alive.

At the funeral of Mzee Paul Teigut attended by over 30 MPs, the talk of the next general election completely drowned the President’s warnings.

Healthy talk

“The debate on 2022 politics is alive, we cannot overlook it, it’s a healthy talk even as we support the President to cement his legacy through the implementation of the Big Four,” said Kipkelion MP Hillary Kosgey.

In last week’s Nyeri event, Ruto was accompanied by all leaders from the county and his usual band of Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu) and Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa and, surprisingly, Migori Governor Okoth Obado.

Led by Ichung’wa, the leaders claimed there were underhand dealings to have DP Ruto prosecuted at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to impede his 2022 presidential ambition. Ichung’wah and Nyoro accused the DP’s opponents of planning to revive the ICC cases on the 2007/08 post-election violence.

“Those trying to bring back ICC should know the wave in support of DP Ruto is unstoppable and 2022 he will be President. The whole of Mt Kenya is behind you (Ruto),” said Ichung’wa.

The legislator said those giving fresh reports to the ICC were enemies of the country scheming to cause disunity.

“They will be defeated come 2022 and the people will show their support for you,” Ichung’wa told Ruto.

The interpretation of the President’s remarks on 2022 has been varied.

Some factions believe a message that leaders should keep off the succession debate was clear, while others insist the President has not stopped any discussions.

Some MPs who have been Ruto’s vocal supporters have already changed tune or gone silent.

Notable among them is Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, who was the subject of Uhuru’s wrath when Jubilee legislators met him in Nyeri.

Kuria wrote on Facebook, before deleting it later, that his decision to stop the premature campaigns would only be informed by the decision of other politicians.

“We have a new rule book for all 2022presidential candidates, including myself. We either collectively agree to stop premature 2022presidential campaigns or we all immerse ourselves full throttle into the campaigns. Ukimwaga ugali, wacha nimwage kitoweo sote tulale njaa,” read his post.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said there had been a shift among the leaders to the more immediate issues that concern the region such as infrastructure.

“What the President was talking about was the issue of our priority as leaders, that is why you are seeing a lot less political activity from Mt Kenya leaders than was there before but that does not mean that it is finished,” he said.

Misconstrued

South Mugirango MP Sylvanus Osoro, who was with Ruto in Nyeri last Sunday, told the Sunday Standard that President Kenyatta’s message had been misconstrued to mean the politicians had been warned off Ruto.

“I think people are reading that statement of the President too much,” he said. “Nobody is campaigning. What the Mt Kenya leaders said are expressions of their views on 2022 and shouldn’t be defined as campaign strategy.”

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua said the reports that they had been warned about DP Ruto were inaccurate.

“We had a meeting with him (Uhuru) as MPs and he told us he would like us to focus on development and we agreed on what to do. He did not tell us not go to where the Deputy President is,” Gachagua said.  

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