End of Uhuru, Ruto union confirmed after Nakuru polls
By Steve Mkawale and Kennedy Gachuhi | March 7th 2021
The Jubilee marriage between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto was sealed in Nakuru.
And if there were any doubts about state of the union, then the Thursday by-election in two wards in the same county confirmed it was no more.
The duo went to their extremes to test their popularity in the county in the run-up to the 2022 polls, with Uhuru backing the Jubilee Party (JP) candidate and his deputy supporting the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) candidate.
At around 1am on Friday, the contest ended with shared spoils when each won a civic seat in a county where they began their political journey in December 2012.
Politically, it was a clash between a president seeking to cement his legacy of a united country and a deputy determined to chart a different political path away from Jubilee, a party he helped put together.
The UhuRuto marriage started in Nakuru eight years ago and ended there on Thursday during the hotly contested by-election.
Uhuru, the Jubilee Party leader, marshaled support of the Raila Odinga-led Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and Kanu for Jubilee candidates in London and Hell’s Gate wards.
DP Ruto and his allies backed UDA candidates in the twin by-elections following the fallout in Jubilee.
Both seats were previously held by Jubilee Party ward reps who died in November last year.
In London Ward, UDA’s Antony Nzuki carried the day after defeating Francis Njoroge of Jubilee with 1,707 votes against 1,385.
And Jubilee Party’s Virginia Wamaitha was declared the winner of Hell’s Gate Ward seat.
Her win will give Jubilee some hope after she registered 3,863 votes against UDA’s Jonathan Warothe who garnered 2,766.
The outcome of the by-election came after weeks of high-octane campaigns that were characterised by show of might, bribery allegations and violence on the voting day.
The Jubilee Party will be forced to go back to the drawing board as the UDA win is likely to have an impact on Uhuru’s influence in consolidating Mt Kenya region and locking out his deputy.
Ruto and his allies have been buoyed by the win and see it as a stepping stone to making inroads in Mt Kenya region ahead of the 2022 polls.
Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika made it clear to those opposed to UDA that it is the party to watch.
“We are more determined now than ever.
“The win in London is just what we wanted, especially coming at a time when we have been harassed, intimidated, teargassed and called names,” she said soon after Nzuki was declared the winner at Moi Secondary High School on Friday morning.
UDA’s win came at the time when the relationship between the president and his deputy had deteriorated.
Just like the rest of the nine Mt Kenya counties, Nakuru is a swing area where the DP will seek to test his popularity in the region, affirmed by MPs from the region who are his allies.
It is here that Jubilee Party was conceived in 2012 as a vehicle to propel the then dynamic duo to power the following year, while at the same time in unity of purpose to fight crimes against humanity charges they were facing at the International Criminal Court.
Uhuru’s The National Alliance (TNA) and United Republican Party (URP) formed the Jubilee Coalition after national prayers were held at Afraha Stadium before the two proceeded to The Hague.
With an agreement to work closely, the coalition partners shared the various elective posts in Nakuru County, a strategy that saw them easily edge out other parties in the 2013 polls.
By 2017, the two parties had convinced others to wind up and form the ruling Jubilee Party which maintained a keen eye on Nakuru County, the country’s melting pot of politics. After the first poll was nullified, Uhuru and Ruto landed in Kapkures, Nakuru Town West, before proceeding to town to rally support for repeat presidential poll.
Governor Lee Kinyanjui, who is a trusted ally of the president, has been keen in ensuring that Nakuru remains Uhuru’s stronghold.
Although the party lost in London Ward, Kinyanjui ensured that he delivered the Hell’s Gate seat.
The outcome of the by-election has serious political ramification for both camps and the political future of the county that was a key voting bloc for Jubilee Party in 2013 and 2017 polls.
The region has since the country’s independence been regarded as an important political weather glass in the country, hence the saying, “when Nakuru sneezes, the rest of the country catch the cold.”
All the country’s four presidents – Mzee Kenyatta, the late President Daniel arap Moi, retired President Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru – have had special interest in Nakuru where they and their cronies own huge chunks of land and other property.
Major political rallies in Nakuru have had an impact on the political destiny of the country since the colonial times.
President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, at the height of campaigns for political independence, held a rally in Nakuru where he reassured White settlers that the Kanu administration would not victimise them upon assuming power.
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