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Wooing ex-Nasa leaders, Uhuru deal might help Ruto in 2022 race

By Jacob Ngetich | October 26th 2021

Deputy President William Ruto addresses his supporters at Mtito Andei, Kibwezi East, Makueni County. [DPPS]

Like a gambler determined to make a kill, Deputy President William Ruto has cast his cards wide, evaluating the odds, avoiding the dangers and keeping the aces for a clean finish.

His strategy to remain a front runner to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta must be intact with every passing day in the remaining 10 months to the elections. And he also has to ward off the political assault from Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga and the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) principals.

Faced with all the odds, intensified campaigns by his rivals, with a possible super alliance, a cold government machinery and a restive support base that needs to be wooed, Ruto has opened his arms for new allies.

In his race to State House, the DP faces formidable political forces that could easily scatter his ambitions to the four winds.

The threat of a united opposition, the rise of Raila’s “5th” campaign push, a possible fall out within his party that could be occasioned by the curse of the plenty and the running-mate factor.

Raila has surged politically in the last few months, building a political momentum that is, increasingly, forcing Ruto back to the drawing board. Initially, it is understood that the DP insiders believed that the ODM leader would be easy to beat, but the recent campaigns across the country have given Ruto’s team a new headache.

The entry of the formidable OKA into the fray and with a possible coming together to work with Raila is compounding the situation.

During the homecoming of Kiambaa MP John Wanjiku last week, Ruto welcomed Thika Town MP Patrick ‘Jungle ‘ Wainaina into his UDA party. Though new members are joining the bandwagon, DP’s allies like former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria seem to be losing steam in the hustler nation train.

Beyond the activated popularisation of UDA, the bottom-up economic model and the Hustler Nation narrative across the country ahead of the rigorous campaigns early next year, The Standard has learned that Ruto is making last-minute calculations that might give him an advantage.

A source close to the DP’s insiders told The Standard that his team was on the verge of a deal with a former National Super Alliance (NASA) principal and talks were in top gear to win over a second one.

“We have already convinced one of the former NASA principals and intensified talks to have the second also commit. The deals to have the two politicians could be unveiled in late December or January,” said the source who sought anonymity given the sensitivity of the matter.

OKA principals, from left, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Gideon Moi (Kanu) and Ford Kenya's Moses Wetangula. May 2021. [Dennis Kavisu, Standard]

But a bigger political deal could be on its way according to an MP from Rift Valley who also sought anonymity.

President’s close operatives and those of the DP are working on a pre-election deal that could see the Uhuru have a role in picking some Cabinet Secretaries should Ruto win next year. The arrangement is similar to the one they struck in 2013 where the Head of State ceded half of the Cabinet to Ruto.

But in 2017, it is said they agreed that Uhuru has a free hand in picking the entire government without Ruto’s hand.

“There is that push for a pre-election agreement before the August polls, the talks are on a higher level. The pact could change the political realignment, let’s give time for the talks, things will become clearer with time,” said the MP.

Understandably, there has been a thawing of hardline stances for operatives in government to Ruto and his allies including the immediate arrest of the eight residents of Busia town who attacked the DP’s motorcade.

During the Mashujaa Day celebration at Wang’uru Stadium in Kirinyaga County, Uhuru and Ruto shared pleasantries. It was the time they were meeting publicly in over four months after the Madaraka Day celebrations in Kisumu.

It is not clear if the truce called by the Catholic bishops had a hand in the thawing of the hard grounds for the two leaders.

Kericho Catholic Bishop Alfred Rotich noted that, after the few errands by the clergy, there was already an expression of interest by the two sides and behind the scene talks had begun.

“The process is ongoing,  beacon have been pitched and what remaining is normal surveying. We could have a breakthrough before Christmas,” said Bishop Rotich.

A source at the Government also on condition that they are not named said there was a general sense of truce between the two sides.

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