THE STAR 09/1/2021
Deputy President William Ruto is over the weekend expected to chair a meeting with his Tangatanga MPs from Mt Kenya to assuage growing fears over small parties.
This even as Gatundu South Moses Kuria, a key Ruto stalwart and the leader of Chama Cha Kazi party, made a surprise declaration that he will retire from politics with President Uhuru Kenyatta next year.
The MP, who has been a staunch Tangatanga follower, has of late been sending mixed signals about his political allegiance even as he sustains the push for multipartyism in the DP's camp.
The Star has established that the DP will hold talks with lawmakers and leaders of fringe parties from the region which have insisted that they will not fold up to join the United Democratic Alliance.
However, on Tuesday Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, Ruto’s key point man from Mt Kenya region, revealed that a meeting is being planned to bring all the pro-Ruto leaders from the region to the table.
The MP said while the majority of Mt Kenya MPs are determined to campaign for the DP’s 2022 presidential bid, negotiations are ongoing on the best strategy to be deployed to push Ruto to State House.
“There are those of us, and we are quite a number... you will be seeing us at the end of the week, about 40 MPs, who think that we want to be in UDA because we believe it is the party for the mountain,” Gachagua said.
The MP, a heavyweight within the DP’s Tangatanga axis, revealed that indeed there are concerns by some politicians from Mt Kenya over the mode of engagement with UDA ahead of the 2022 polls.
“All of us - Mwangi Kiunjuri, Rigathi Gachagua, Kimani Ichungwa and all of us - want to form government William Ruto being our president. How we get there is a matter of discussion and continuous engagement,” he said.
Kuria yesterday admitted that he had heard about a meeting being planned to bring together pro-Ruto supporters from Mt Kenya but denied he had knowledge of the agenda.
This would be the first time the DP is making a pragmatic move to address concerns from his Mt Kenya allies who have maintained fielding parallel candidates for elective seats in 2022 polls.
There has been growing disquiet within the DP’s Mt Kenya squad after a section of politicians, including Kuria and ex-Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, stuck to their guns.
Kuria and Kiunjuri, who leads The Service Party, had protested plans to corner them to dissolve their parties and join UDA, triggering a standoff.
Gachagua denied that there was a plan to force Kuria and Kiunjuri to fold their outfits in favour of UDA ahead of the next general election.
“.... others feel, and rightfully so, that we get the small parties into a coalition but discussions and engagements are a continuous process, in any case we still have time,” Gachagua said.
He went on, “By the way, none of us wants to fold Moses Kuria’s party or Mwangi Kiunjuri’s party. We want to encourage multiparty democracy; it is only that we are having a difference opinion in terms of strategy on how to win this presidential vote for William Ruto.”
It was not clear yesterday whether Kuria’s move to quit elective politics next year has anything to do with his resistance to working with UDA.
He, however, said he will dedicate his time and energy in building his CCK party ahead of the next polls.
“I have decided I will not vie for any political seat in the 2022 General Election,” the MP said insisting that, “I am now focusing on building Chama Cha Kazi for the interest of Mt Kenya.”
Kuria has been working around a Mt Kenya unity caucus that includes Kiunjuri and Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, saying the interests of the region must come first and be taken seriously by any presidential candidate.