Opposition chief Raila Odinga’s lieutenants have told off a section of Mount Kenya MPs allied to the Deputy President William Ruto over a hard hitting letter to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
In the letter, they warned that they will not sell Raila or any other ‘imposed’ presidential candidate to the region should they vie for the presidency in 2022.
Instead, Ruto’s battalion wants President Kenyatta not to influence his succession but to emulate his predecessor Mwai Kibaki, whom they said never, interfered with the people’s democratic right to choose their leader.
However, Raila’s stalwarts have come to his defense with guns blazing, telling off their political nemesis that they should focus on their own candidate, DP Ruto.
Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) chair John Mbadi (Suba South) who is also the Minority Leader in the National Assembly, said their party leader will continue making inroads in the region without the help of those allied to the second-in-command.
Mbadi claimed that Raila is the one who has been gaining more converts in the mountains, partly because a number of leaders from the region have accompanied him on tour to a region he did not visit before.
“How can people who have been busy say they will not sell Raila’s presidency in the region? You cannot sell two presidential candidates in a region. Let them focus on their candidate,” said Mbadi.
According to Mbadi, his party boss has not lost anyone in Mount Kenya but has gained because whenever he visits the region, he is accompanied by the likes of Nominated MP Maina Kamanda.
Mbadi a close ally of Raila further said ODM politicians are working on an elaborate scheme aimed at exploiting Raila’s ‘Handshake’ with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“We will continue engaging Mount Kenya leaders who share our perspective, meet the elders and engage the masses,” he said.
Raila has in the past maintained that he is ready to tour the region to popularise the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), amid preparations for the 2022 General Election.
The former PM dismissed the narrative that the region is hostile to him and the proposed constitutional changes.
ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna told the Ruto-allied MPs from Mount Kenya that neither President Kenyatta nor Raila has to ‘sell’ the presidential quest.
According to Sifuna, the ‘Handshake’ Co principal is yet to declare that he will vie for the top seat, which makes “demands by some 41 MPs from the President’s region absurd”.
“What we know is that should he decide to run, Raila has the demonstrable capacity to traverse the entire country, canvassing for votes on the strength of his countrywide network of supporters,” he said.
Nominated Senator Rose Nyamunga added that 2022 succession politics will be decided by the people, “not pedestrian politics driven by a few legislators.
The Mount Kenya bloc has been flipped into a battlefield that could swing the 2022 State House bid of any serious presidential contender amid the raging BBI debate.
With President Kenyatta leaving office come 2022, the region has not fronted any ‘serious’ candidate, unlike in the past, making the region a crucial one for Dr. Ruto and his political nemesis, Raila.
Bearing in mind that the region voted overwhelmingly for Mr Kenyatta and Dr Ruto both in 2013 and 2017, the DP is said to be treading carefully to avoid making a move that can hurt the Central region and his allies, because any split will jeopardise his quest for the country’s top seat. The eight Mount Kenya counties – Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Murang’a and Kiambu – have 4.1 million and were the Jubilee Party’s catalyst to State House; hence the DP’s intensified campaigns in his bid to succeed Mr. Kenyatta.