Deputy President William Ruto says he supports the decision by the ruling Jubilee Party not to field a candidate in the Msambweni by-election although he was initially of a contrary opinion.
Tellingly, the DP said he had gone to the Jubilee Party headquarters on Tuesday to discuss the Msambweni by-election and others in four or five words with secretary-general Raphael only to find that he had left for the day.
The Deputy President, however, absolved Mr Tuju of blame as the decision had already been made.
“I am satisfied with what they have done. I was of a different view on Msambweni but a decision has been made,” Dr Ruto told journalists after a meeting with Mr Tuju at the party headquarters to where he had driven barely an hour after Mr Tuju announced the party’s decision not to field a candidate.
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With a tinge of disappointment, Ruto said, “Jubilee believes in giving every ward and constituency a chance to express itself and that is what President Uhuru Kenyatta and I believe in.”
He said there should be open doors so that people like Sharlet Mariam Akinyi [who was there to present her candidature papers] are not denied the chance to run. Akinyi is a one-time personal assistant of Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko.
He, however, said those who had been locked out of the Msambweni race could still run as independents as Jubilee had no candidate there.
“I sympathise with the good lady here,” said the Deputy President in reference to Ms Akinyi.
As to whether he will throw his weight behind Ms Akinyi, the DP jokingly replied: “Yes, if she talks to me nicely”.
However, Dr Ruto pointed out that the party is not being folded.
“Jubilee is expanding,” he said.
Earlier on, Mr Tuju had announced that Jubilee would not field a candidate for the Msambweni by-election
“With the unprecedented corporation between Jubilee and ODM in the parliament in the recent past on matter of national importance and given that is was an ODM seat, the decision has been made that Jubilee will not field a candidate in the interest of the bigger picture,” read a statement from the ruling party signed by Mr Tuju.
“The country has very serious constitutional matters to deal with that will require sobriety and reaching across the political divides in order to navigate our beloved country across some of these challenges,” added the statement.
The IEBC has set December 15 as the election date after the initially intended June by-election was halted with the unprecedented effects of Covid-19.
The Msambweni seat was left vacant after the death of Suleiman Dori.
In September 2019, Dr Ruto went against the grain and had Jubilee fielding retired football star Mc Donal Mariga against ODM's Imran Okoth after the death of popular MP Ken Okoth, Imran's brother.
Imran won in a race where one faction of the Jubilee Party led by Maina Kamanda campaigned for Imran while the other led by the Deputy President wooed voters to elect Mariga.