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William Ruto truce fails to stop infighting at Husler house

Deputy President William Ruto. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto's timely intervention notwithstanding, the vicious infighting within his political camp escalated to the battle for the soul of the hustler nation.

Ruto convinced Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria to withdraw his Peoples Empowerment Party (PEP) candidate from the Kiambaa mini-poll, but the bitter taste this left in Kuria's camp further stoked the war of words.

A statement issued by Kuria early yesterday gave the impression that he was forced to drop his candidate, but also threw barbs at the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) for triggering the withdrawal.

Kuria said the decision had robbed his party of a chance to obtain approval of its popularity in Central following previous electoral victories in Gaturi ward and Juja constituency. He claimed UDA was not hustler-powered.

"Whereas PEP is driven by our ordinary men and women, mostly the youth, our sister party UDA is largely driven by my colleagues the incumbent MPs whom I respect a lot," Kuria claimed in a veiled attack at UDA leadership.

Kuria placed the blame on his colleagues- Rigathi Gachagua and Kimani Ichungwa. And rather than close ranks with UDA in the campaigns, he announced different plans for his party:

"The good news is we will now focus on a nationwide tour to meet candidates who will be vying for various seats in next year's General Election on PEP ticket," he said.

While appreciating PEP's decision, however, UDA tore into the party's claims on its leadership. In a statement, party secretary-general Veronica Maina gave Kuria a free lecture on UDA, claiming the party was full-blown hustler in all ways and forms.

"UDA is neither Hon Johnstone Muthama's party neither is it managed by sitting MP's. On the contrary, UDA is the Hustlers party," Maina said.

She drew attention to the party's ongoing registration drive, saying mama mboga's, saloonists, hawkers, barbers, waiters, cleaners, boda bodas riders, hard cart pushers, farmers, small traders and others of their ilk had registered in droves for UDA membership.

"For the first time, there is a party that has a deliberate representation of all hustlers. This has been affirmed by our choice of candidates in Kiambaa and Muguga. Our candidate in Kiambaa, Njuguna wa Wanjiku, is a young hustler, a child of a single mother," she said.

Maina also told off Kuria on his other claims on leadership of Hustler allied parties. She also stated that UDA had supported PEP in the recent successful Juja parliamentary by-election, "and it’s because of this gesture that they have withdrawn their candidate in Kiambaa."

In his statement, Kuria said he had withdrawn his candidates in order to make his two colleagues happy, "and above all for the unity of the Hustler nation." He apologized to the PEP candidate Raymond Kuria, Kiambaa people and PEP members."

Yesterday, details emerged of how Kuria bowed to pressure to withdraw his candidate. Murang'a Senator Irungu Kang'ata revealed that he had a meeting with Ruto in Mombasa on Saturday before the DP met Kuria in Nairobi on Sunday.

Mr Kang'ata said the two meetings were part of negotiations to have all Ruto allies rally behind the UDA candidate. 

“I was part of the negotiations. I flew to Mombasa on Friday and met the DP at Sun n Sand Hotel on Saturday but Moses Kuria was absent. We discussed and we came to that understanding that DP was to call Moses Kuria and agree on the way forward,” said Kang'ata.

The senator admitted that the supremacy battles in the Hustler nation were being fueled by senior politicians angling for top positions in Ruto’s 2022 political lineup.

“Senior Tangatanga politicians are angling for DP post in Ruto’s camp. This is good and healthy. It also shows that they believe DP is the way,” he added.

But Kuria denied claims that he was coerced into pulling out of the race, saying that he arrived at the decision after having “broad discussions” with Ruto.

He said that fielding two candidates by parties affiliated to Ruto would have split votes of their supporters in Kiambaa constituency.

“We discussed broadly, nobody prevailed upon me or coerced me into pulling out of the race.  We didn’t want to split our votes because we are stakeholders in the Hustler Nation,” said Kuria.

Garissa Township MP Aden Duale yesterday described what is happening in the DP’s camp as normal jostling for positions in popular political outfits.

He said that the power struggle within UDA was because the newly-branded party has turned into a mass movement.

Duale noted that such jostling can only be witnessed in UDA and ODM because of their strong presence across the country.

“Those are normal things with popular parties. UDA has become a mass movement that is why there is this kind of interest and jostling by leaders. The only parties where you can see this kind of jostling are UDA and ODM,” he said.

He downplayed reports that the infighting could jolt Ruto’s game plan, saying that there are internal mechanisms to handle rift among UDA members.

“We have structures and internal mechanisms to deal with the internal rifts. We treat it as a positive development in our party and we will ensure that every member is treated equally for the growth of the party,” he added.

At the same, Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, said that they will not allow bureaucrats to get into the political affairs of Jubilee Party.

Mr Wambugu said dismal performance in mini-polls by the ruling party was a result of the involvement of civil servants in the campaigns.

The MP lauded Jubilee for conducting a credible process to pick the candidate for Kiambaa parliamentary by-election.

"The Jubilee will therefore present a united front in the by-elections because we do not want a fall out from the supporters," Wambugu said.

"We are making these decisions united moving forward and while this is the process of nomination best for Kiambaa it will vary the process based on what is best for the situation on the ground," he stated.

He lauded Kuria's decision to withdraw PEP candidate from the by-election saying the UDA would not have any excuse when they lose in the mini-poll.

"We are happy because they cannot use the excuse that they (PEP and UDA) were divided when they lost," he said.

He insisted that Jubilee's loss in the Juja by-election had nothing to do with the party's popularity.

Wambugu explained that the political leaders in Jubilee will sell their agenda to the people.

"We shall speak to the minds and hearts of Kenyans. Let me assure you that we shall be reloading of our party," he said.  

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