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Uhuru moves to clip Ruto wings in race for western

By Jacob Ng’etich | Jan 26th 2022 | 3 min read


President Uhuru Kenyatta adresses a meeting of a cross-section of Western Kenya leaders who paid him a courtesy visit at State House, Nairobi. [Courtesy]

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday began an onslaught to defend the western vote basket from being taken away by Deputy President William Ruto, who is competing against former Prime Minister Raila Odinga to succeed him in the August presidential election.

President Kenyatta told governors, senators and Members of the National Assembly from the western Kenya to drum up support for the ongoing voter registration and market the Azimio la Umoja movement, which is expected to endorse Raila as its presidential candidate.

“Go back and urge your people to register as voters in large numbers and campaign for the unity of the country. You know the others have decided to go their way and you must counter them vigorously,” Uhuru told the leaders at State House, Nairobi yesterday.

The day-long meeting came just two days after former Vice-President Musalia Mudavadi ‘earthquake’ at Bomas of Kenya, during which he said he would work with Ruto in their quest to win the State House Race. Mudavadi also ruled out an alliance with Raila. Another western Kenya leader, Ford-K leader Moses Wetang’ula, also joined the new alliance the same day.

The western region has over three million votes, making it the third biggest vote basket after Mount Kenya and Rift Valley and could be the single largest swing vote in the August 9 general election.

Yesterday, Uhuru urged the western leaders to be steadfast and ensure that good candidates were elected into office come August. Among those in attendance were all the four governors from the region as well as Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa.

He asked the Azimio la Umoja group to ensure that they have consensus and agree on which party will field which candidates so that they do not give a chance to their opponents to win seats. He also drummed up support for Raila claiming that the country needed stability.

According to one MP who attending the meeting, Uhuru told the leaders that the intention of his handshake with Raila was to reunite the country.

“I thought it was going to be easier to rope in Raila’s former principals but surprisingly trying to involve them has given me a new headache,” the MP quoted the President as saying. He said Uhuru expressed shock that those who were meant to eventually be the beneficiaries of this move had acted anger and bolted to join other forces.

“Anger is bad and by the time they realise it, their mistake it will be two late,” the MP heard.

The president also revisited his desire about the need to have another community take over the mantle of leadership from the Kikuyu and Kalenjin who have been in power since independence. He said it was only right that to be magnanimous enough to allow others communities to lead the country.

The meeting heard that Azimio was the way forward and he asked the MPs present to support Raila to start working in August.

Another MP who also requested not to be named said the President took a swipe at his deputy, accusing him of being power hungry. He said the DP has been campaigning most of the time instead of supporting him in nation building.

The State House meeting that begun at 11am could be seen as a reaction to Mudavadi’s and Wetangula’s decision to team up with Ruto. In his speech on Sunday, Mudavadi was critical of Uhuru’s administration, saying it had left the country broke.

President Kenyatta has hosted Mudavadi, Wetang’ula, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Kanu chair Gideon Moi twice at State House in Mombasa and in Nairobi with the intention of convincing them to support Raila’s fifth stab at the presidency. The move by Mudavadi and Wetang’ula is seen as a revolt against the president.

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