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Battle for Mt Kenya: Ruto gets a bit rough on the edges

By Jacob Ngetich | November 18th 2021

Deputy President addressing wananchi at Nkondi Market in Tharaka Nithi County on November 17, 2021. [DPPS, Standard]

Faced with resistance by the majority of governors from the Mt Kenya region, Deputy President William Ruto is hitting them hard during campaign meetings.

The Deputy President has won over a significant number of legislators from the region, but a majority of governors have stuck with President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, a move that seems to have slowed Ruto's attempt to completely turn central Kenya to his side.  

In what seems to be a new strategy, Ruto in the last one week has been setting up the governors against their people in a move perhaps meant to bully them into submission.

In the recent tours of Mt Kenya, the combative DP has employed a political scorched earth policy and moved from dropping hints to lashing out at the governors over their support for Raila, and setting them against the region's residents.

The DP's onslaught began on Sunday while on a tour of Kiambu County, where he took on the governor James Nyoro, accusing him of imposing Raila on the people of his county.

A day later, while on a tour of Meru County, Ruto pointed a similar accusation on governor Kiraitu Murungi, telling the county boss to instead listen to his people. 

“We have wasted four years after the ODM leader started causing rifts until he was entertained, now Kiraitu is trying to impose him (Raila) on the Meru people,” Ruto told residents at a rally in Kagaeni, Mikinduri and Maua Town.

Ruto's direct combat with the governors has rubbed the leaders from Central Kenya the wrong way and in two separate statements, the leaders allied to Uhuru have accused Ruto of using unsavoury language against leaders for supporting and accommodating the ODM leader.

The leaders have accused the DP of political manipulation and intimidation of its leaders based on "falsehoods and innuendos".

Jubilee Caucus

Chairman, Central Region Economic Bloc (CEREB) Francis Kimemia, on behalf of Mt Kenya governors and Parliamentary Jubilee Caucus said Ruto's outbursts were unbecoming of the office of Deputy President and go against Chapter Six of the Constitution.

"This unprofessional conduct is likely to provoke acts of violence and undermine the rule of law. The Office of the Deputy President must be respected but we shall not allow any manipulation and intimidation of our innocent people based on falsehoods and innuendos," he said in a statement.

Kimemia, who is also Nyandarua Governor, said in recent days, Ruto had attacked Kiraitu and Nyoro.

The governor said the right to make political choices for the people of Mt Kenya had not been outsourced to anyone and residents and leaders alike have a right to make their choices.

"The notion that the region had already settled on a candidate or that the people have no capacity to think on their own is totally misplaced," continued the statement.

At the same time, the Mt Kenya Jubilee Caucus said they were putting the deputy president on notice and issuing a stern warning that the region has a right to support whoever they want and their rights must be respected.

"We urge him (Ruto) to remember that the people he is insulting in public forums were voted for, by those he wants to get votes from," said the MPs.

"The attacks disguised to sound like jest, have laid bare the DP's utter contempt for the region and its leaders", said the MPs. 

Kiraitu tweeted; "We must refrain from politics of hate. The people of Meru want policies that will benefit them post 2022, they want to hear policies on miraa, tea, coffee, milk among other economic policies. Not shallow empty rhetoric."

However, Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua came to the DP's defence accusing the governors of being funded by the government to rally against Ruto.

"We know some governors are being sponsored by the State to hoodwink people, and we will tell the voters the truth however bitter it is. Why are these same leaders crying now while they have also been calling the DP names?" wondered Gachagua.

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