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Why Mt Kenya is jittery over possible Raila-Ruto alliance

Raila Odinga and William Ruto in a photo taken in 2006. The Mt Kenya region is keenly watching whether a rumoured alliance between them can come to fruition. [File, Standard]

The Mt Kenya region is keenly watching whether a rumoured alliance between Deputy President William Ruto and ODM party leader Raila Odinga can come to fruition. They are also keen to see what such an alliance would mean for regional interests.

An alliance between the two men, both interested in succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta, would most certainly shake the region’s political interests and its main selling point, the 8 million vote basket.

Some Ruto allies from the region have opposed any political alliance between the two, saying they will not be party to it and may even bolt out of the DP’s camp.

Kirinyaga Woman Representative Wangui Ngirici said any move by Ruto to form a coalition with Raila would cost him his political support base from the region, as the leaders cannot submit to such a formation.

“If Ruto goes ahead and forms a coalition with Raila, I can tell you without fear that all MPs who support Ruto from the vote-rich basket will abandon him, I being in the frontline,” Ms Ngirici said. 

She, however, said she had asked Ruto about the matter and he assured her nothing of the sort was on course.

Ngirici said she could not imagine a political union between Ruto and Raila, saying: “It could be a union full of mistrust and hide-and-seek games”.

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua also dismissed any talk of Ruto forming an alliance with the ODM leader, saying Raila was not welcome in the DP’s camp. 

The Ruto diehard supporter accused the former prime minister of having a history of wreaking havoc in any political formation or government he joined and that Ruto, having known his rival more than his followers, could not agree to form an alliance with him. 

“We are not going to enter into any coalition deal with Odinga, that you can take to the bank. If he has subscribed to our hustlers’ transformation agenda, he can do so by way of voting for Ruto as the fifth president in 2022, but we can’t form an alliance with him,” said Mr Gachagua. 

He recounted how Raila worked with Ruto in 2007, only to dump him later; how the coalition government between Raila and former president Mwai Kibaki was full of drama and how the unity of the Jubilee government was disrupted when the ODM leader shook hands with President Uhuru Kenyatta. 

“He has a history of messing. Hustler's narrative seeks to build the economy based on a bottom-up approach, but this can never be made possible when Odinga is part of the government seeking to implement the programme,” said Gachagua.

National party

He dispelled the narrative of the alliance based on remarks made by the DP on Radio Citizen last week, saying Ruto only said he agreed with Raila on the formation of a national party and not regional groupings in the name of political outfits.

“He never insinuated that he was joining Odinga in forming an alliance. He only agreed with Odinga on the formation of a political party with a national outlook. After wrecking Jubilee, he (Raila) is at the verge of being dumped and he is not welcome in our camp,” Gachagua said.

However, Meru Senator Mithika Linturi, one of Ruto’s key allies in Mt Kenya East, said he believed nothing was impossible in politics and that players had no permanent friends or foes, only interests.

“If the two agreed on ideology and elected to move together, that would be the best gift for Mt Kenya in 2022,” said Mr Linturi.

“Since the Hustler nation has key lieutenants such as myself, Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu MP) and Rigathi Gachagua, Mt Kenya would be a major player in that government.”

Linturi said Ruto and Raila had a long history of working together between 2005 and 2009 and could rekindle an “earth-shaking alliance” that would deny Uhuru any voice in his succession.

“Watch this space; this is where we are headed,” he said.

Some political pundits argue that should the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2020 be approved in the referendum, the two political heavyweights may get an easy way out as one of them may be got for the presidency, while the other seeks a parliamentary seat so that he can be the prime minister.

Egos to contend with

North Imenti MP Rahim Dawood however says a Ruto-Raila partnership may be unlikely, given they may not agree on who runs for what position.

“There are egos to contend with in the first place, but as regards Mt Kenya, what matters is what our stake is in any alliance. We could have our own to go for the top seat, as this is politics where no rules apply,” said Mr Dawood.

Mt Kenya Youth Caucus Chair Linford Mutembei said a Raila-Ruto alliance was a long shot that would only be viable once the opposition leader opens up on the same.

“Raila has already been deeply entrapped into a Mt Kenya alliance pact to make a fresh break with other players. This could be engineered to test the threat to the present setup,” said Mr Mutembei.

He, however, added that the direct impact of a Raila-Ruto pact would be to unite Mt Kenya under one umbrella since this would serve the region’s interests.

But Multimedia University Leadership and Management lecturer Gitile Naituli sees Uhuru’s hand in the ever-changing proposed formations.

“Uhuru Kenyatta goes down in history as one of the best political schemers the country has ever had. He has managed to keep all the potential headaches happy and hopeful as he peacefully winds up his tour of duty as president,” said Prof Naituli.

“He has exposed Ruto to the Monsoon Winds of the South, blackmailed Raila thoroughly and Musalia Mudavadi is happily jumping around like a puppy surrounded by other few national leaders, expecting an undeserved endorsement. He may have screwed up the economy, but he has taken care of the politics.”

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