We will ignore Uhuru attacks, DP allies say

Budget Committee Chairman Kimani Ichung'wa addresses press at Hilton Garden Inn Hotel, along Mombasa road on October 25, 2019. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Kenya Kwanza leaders say they will ignore President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Sagana disapproval of Deputy President William Ruto’s bid to succeed him. Sources say Ruto allies will henceforth go easy on Uhuru in what they say will be a change of campaign strategy.

The new strategy is to attract sympathy votes from the vote-rich Mt Kenya region. Although some of Ruto allies had started responding to Uhuru’s stand, The Standard has learnt that they now want to leave the president out of the picture.

They say attacking the President would make them lose focus. They want to train their guns on ODM leader Raila Odinga, who stands to gain following the Uhuru-Ruto political fights in Mt Kenya. On Saturday, the Ruto brigade will visit Nyeri County in a bid to erase President Kenyatta’s footsteps, but Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua said they will not trade barbs with the President.

While insisting the Nyeri meeting has nothing to do with Sagana Three, Gachagua said they have resolved to ignore the President and give him respect as his term ends.

“We are not in competition with Uhuru but Raila and our meeting is not for reacting to Uhuru’s allegations against Ruto but a continuous engagement with the people on economic interventions we will take to uplift their living standards,” the MP said. “Uhuru is our leader and king. For this, we will not engage him even if he is disrespectful to us. Two wrongs don’t make a right,” Gachagua told The Standard on the telephone.

Murang’a Senator Irungu Kangata separately said instead of responding to the President, Ruto’s team will launch an all-out campaign aimed at showing the region why the community should reject Raila. “We are not rebutting anything against Uhuru. We feel sad that Tinga (Raila) is misusing the President to win the presidency by all means necessary. He (Raila) needs to focus on explaining his ideas to Kenyans,” Kangata said in a text message.

Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa said Ruto’s team is focused on “the programme and message of hope for the economic liberation of our people and not Uhuru Kenyatta”.  Some observers say Ruto allies could have developed cold feet and fear of losing the support of Uhuru’s die-hards who will constitute a larger percentage of voters. Kiarie Wa Munga, a Laikipia-based politician, said the UhuruRuto fallout has also thrown aspirants into confusion since aligning with one faction may lead to loss of votes.

“It’s a delicate balance even for Ruto and his allies because deciding to face Uhuru head-on implies that government machinery will be brought forward to clip Ruto’s popularity, and that is why politicians are evaluating carefully on their next move,” Munga said.

“Uhuru can’t be underestimated in Mt Kenya region and this could be the reason Ruto camp is reluctant to face him head-on,” Munga added.

Embu University lecturer Judy Makira said Ruto allies’ are keen to present him as a man who has been persecuted by the government he fought to establish.

“The President means what he says about Ruto but his deputy has learnt the art of political deceit and wants to harvest votes as a result of going against the grain,” Makira said. And with Uhuru’s final stroke against Ruto, observers say the DP has to go back to the drawing board.