How William Ruto is turning the tables on Azimio

Some of the coalition's MPs from the two parties have met President Ruto at State House, Nairobi recently.

One of the results of the meeting was followed by Jubilee Party's resolution after a meeting in Nakuru on Friday to leave Azimio.

The party's National Executive Committee (NEC) also suspended Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni and replaced him with East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) member Kanini Kega. Also shown the door was vice-chair David Murathe.

Kioni has insisted that he is still in charge, explaining his alleged ouster was engineered by renegade MPs after learning they would be expelled for betraying Jubilee.

Unlike his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta who wittingly co-opted the opposition into his administration shortly after his election via a handshake with Raila, Ruto has pursued a different strategy.

The president has taken the opposition apart one party after the other, co-opting them into his administration and fomenting discord in the Opposition. and in the process he has lit some fires which Raila must extinguish or face a full-blown rebellion that has capacity to collapse his coalition.

Jubilee is just the latest to announce they are backing the government in what has become a pattern for opposition parties that was started by United Democratic Front.

The internal wrangling is not limited to Jubilee alone. ODM too is experiencing cracks within the party which have been caused by a meeting between some of its members and Ruto last Tuesday.

Lang'ata MP Phelix 'Jalango' Odiwuor was locked out of a meeting of elected members two days ago at Maanzoni lodge in Machakos County. He as well as fellow Azimio MPs Gideon Ochanda (Bondo), Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Mark Nyamita (Uriri), Caroli Omondi (Suba South), Shakeel Shabir (Kisumu East, Independent), Paul Abuor (Rongo), John Owino (Awendo) and Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda met with the president.

The party said the leaders were undermining the party leadership and will of the people who elected them. Last Friday, after the Parliamentary Group meeting, Raila communicated the feelings of the party towards the meeting.

"If you are itching and want to go to State House, just go. We better remain with a few loyal members than have political prostitutes," he said at a rally in Mlolongo.

A lengthy statement issued by the party talked tough about betrayal from its members and warned its members who were cozying up to the government with the loss of their seats.

Shape up or ship out, the party said. "There will be no two ways about this. The flirtations and co-habitations with the Kenya Kwanza regime under whatever pretext is totally unacceptable," Azimio chief said.

Azimio suggested that the government was encroaching and cannibalising its ranks using blackmail, dirty politics, and bribery.

"Our people must not succumb to the blackmail, dirty politics, and dirty money being dished out by the regime that is struggling for legitimacy," said the party.

Ruto has ignited a rebellion against Raila, and all around the veteran Opposition politician are crises that require solutions.

More than 30 Jubilee MPs gave the clearest indication yet that they were closing ranks with the government during their meeting with Ruto last week when they pledged to work with the government.

Ruto has been relentless in his pursuit of the support of Jubilee allied MPs, a number of whom, although publicly stating their commitment to Azimio, were averse to the mass action planned by the Opposition. This is the resistance Raila has been building, planning rallies across the country where he expected to rally troops to his course of not recognising the Ruto government's legitimacy.

Made certain

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua hosted some Jubilee MPs at the Harambee House Annex, in late January. He had promised that by the end of 2022, they would all be in Kenya Kwanza.

Ruto has been keen on building a majority in Parliament and made it certain when he met the Jubilee MPs that he would be counting on their support for key Bills to be introduced to the House when it resumes this week.

Saboti MP Caleb Amisi said Jubilee was dead and its leaders should either join UDA or form a new party to survive.

Rather than sit back and watch as Raila goes ahead with planned rallies across the county - tomorrow he will be in Busia - to build support for the resistance of the government, Ruto has mobilized his political machinery.

The governing coalition's propaganda machinery is back to releasing 'exposes' about the activities of the Opposition and attacking their credibility.

Ruto has the Opposition defending the source of their finances and their intent after the government claimed they were funded for a campaign to protect individuals accused of tax evasion.

It is a strategy that Ruto employed successfully during the campaigns taking advantage of the reach of social media sites to discredit his competitors.

Azimio rallies

In government, Ruto has resorted to the strategy to check the opposition and put them on the defensive about the source of the finances for the rallies they have planned across the country.

Ruto's allies have been quick to point out that Raila seemed to lack support for his rallies even within his political base of Nyanza, observing that some of his closest allies have been absent from the rallies.

But as ODM threatens to remove the rebellious MPs from power, political analysts said it is easier said than done.

Former Senator Isaac Mwaura, having been in a similar position himself, said it would be no easy task. "If they couldn't remove me from Jubilee and ODM, how will they do it differently for Ojienda, Caroli, and Jalang'o?" he posed yesterday.

University lecturer Herman Manyora also said that ODM had been faced with a similar problem before and was unable to deal with it.

"ODM should spare itself the trouble. It couldn't handle renegades during the handshake dispensation, how does the party expect to deal with them when they are with Ruto?" he posed.