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Big boys? George Kithi, who was removed from Ruto view by Duale, speaks

George Kithi is eyeing the Kilifi gubernatorial seat on PAA ticket. [Standard]

Tuesday, May 10 was his political Party’s big announcement day: they were ditching Azimio la Umoja for Kenya Kwanza.

Excited, and rife with optimism, he accompanied his boss and Party leader Amason Kingi to Deputy President William Ruto’s Karen residence in Nairobi.

George Kithi is a member of Pamoja African Alliance (PAA) Party, which is headed by Kingi. He is a lawyer by profession and a close confidant of the outgoing Kilifi governor.

Kithi is eyeing the Kilifi gubernatorial seat on PAA ticket.

On Tuesday, his party was formally joining William Ruto-led Kenya Kwanza after days of dalliance with Azimio la Umoja. Big news.

Being the major news item of the day, there were three key prominent figures at the press conference: William Ruto, Amason Kingi, and – to some good extent – George Kithi (Kingi’s candidate for governor in Kilifi).

However, Kithi was “reminded” by Aden Duale that his credentials (maybe) weren’t heavy enough to qualify him to the league of “big boys”.

Just when Ruto was about to address journalists, with his co-principals and senior members of his campaigns team standing behind him, Kithi walked passed Duale, Speaker Justin Muturi and attempted to squeeze himself between Musalia Mudavadi and Amason Kingi. Big blunder, Duale thought.

The Garissa Township MP immediately tapped Kithi on the shoulders and signalled him to take the furthest right corner, far away from the “big boys”, and far away from the cameras’ field of view.

After all, the known faces, according to Duale, are those of Justin Muturi, Musalia Mudavadi, Amason Kingi, Aisha Jumwa, Moses Wetangula and Kithure Kindiki – the “big boys” club.

In his own words on Wednesday, May 11, Duale said he did not know who Kithi was.

“I did not know who he was, and why he was trying to stand between the deputy president and Musalia Mudavadi. I was following protocol,” Duale told Citizen Digital.

Forty-four-year-old Kithi, a father of two, now tells The Standard that his swift removal from the lucrative camera view left him feeling belittled and embarrassed.

“It was my Party leader, Kingi, who asked me to go and stand next to him, I didn’t go there because I wanted fifteen minutes of fame,” he said.

“Duale blocked me [from standing next to Kingi]. Aware of the occasion, and how an act of resistance would ruin the moment, I obliged. However, I felt embarrassed, to be honest,” he said.

After the press conference, Kithi said he informed Ruto of his disappointment.

“Dr Ruto felt sorry and took pictures with me. However, I asked him not to share the pictures until he speaks with Duale about the embarrassing incident,” he said.

Kithi said that Duale later reached him on phone and apologised.

“He told me he knew me as a lawyer, and not a political seat aspirant,” he said, adding: “I accepted his apology.”

Among those who felt sorry for him, was his wife, Kithi said.

“She saw the viral clip of Duale removing me from the VIP podium, and felt sorry for me. When I arrived home in the evening, she asked whether my political ambition was doomed, and I assured her that all was still well,” he said.

The governor hopeful accuses a senior UDA politician from Kilifi County, who is currently serving as an MP, for “engineering my on-stage embarrassment”.

The UDA politician adversely mentioned by Kithi is also seeking to succeed Kingi as Kilifi governor.

It remains to be seen whether PAA, which has pledged loyalty to Kenya Kwanza, will front Kithi as its candidate in the Kilifi gubernatorial race, given UDA has Aisha Jumwa as its candidate.

While announcing exit from Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya, Kingi said on Tuesday that PAA couldn’t accept being zoned, and being asked not to field a candidate in areas that are deemed to be ODM strongholds in the Coast.

Former Devolution Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Gideon Mung’aro of ODM will compete against Jumwa and Kithi in the race for Kilifi governor.