DP Ruto ropes in Nasa chiefs to oppose calls for law change
Deputy President William Ruto has stealthily roped in Mr Musalia Mudavadi and Mr Moses Wetang’ula in his bid to oppose constitutional changes backed by ODM leader Raila Odinga, in what appears like an early start to the 2022 presidential campaigns.
In the middle is President Uhuru Kenyatta, who risks losing either his new-found friend, Mr Odinga, or his deputy, whose eyes are fixed on the top prize.
Through emissaries, the DP has won the support of Mr Mudavadi of Amani National Congress (ANC) and Ford Kenya’s Wetang’ula to oppose Mr Odinga’s proposal of a three-tier government with 14 regions to oversee resource distribution in the 47 counties.
On Mr Odinga’s side is Kanu chairman Gideon Moi, who on several occasions has been pitted against the Deputy President in the Rift Valley. Some analysts say Mr Moi might be endorsed by Mr Odinga for the top job in 2022.
Yesterday, leaders from Mr Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) threatened to scuttle Mr Ruto’s presidential ambitions unless he “stops sabotaging “whatever Mr Odinga does”.
“There is a need for a referendum… Mr Ruto should stop developing cold feet on this matter. Law reform is unstoppable,” said Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi in Migori during a meeting attended by, among others, secretary-general Edwin Sifuna.
Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula described as selfish the bid by Mr Odinga for a three-tier devolved governance, but said they were open to another change — an expanded Executive with a powerful Parliament that oversights it.
They said this in a meeting attended by vocal Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, who claimed to have been sent by the deputy president.
The current change the Constitution clamour is also backed by many church leaders and former President Daniel arap Moi’s Kanu party.
“President Kenyatta and his deputy have said they are focused on building the economy, and uniting Kenya. This economy was badly battered by politics last year. If Raila is focused on politics, Uhuru and Ruto are on another tangent,” said National Assembly Budget committee chairman Kimani Ichung’wa, appearing to distance the President from Mr Odinga’s overtures.
While Mr Odinga argues that the clamour for review of the supreme law is a result of his historic handshake with the President on March 9, Mr Ruto has dismissed the calls as expensive and antithetical to development, coming months after a protracted political crisis.
“The handshake has collapsed. We do not want a referendum. They want a referendum. So we can’t go to bed together. We also cannot agree to another level of devolution — it is expensive!” National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale told the House on Thursday.
On Saturday, Mr Odinga said: “We have a Constitution, but it is not working. That is why President Kenyatta and I came together to change what is not working.”
Two months ago, Mr William Kassait Kamket (Tiaty, Kanu) caused a stir when he proposed a seven-year-one-term ceremonial president and an appointed executive prime minister in charge of the Cabinet. Mr Odinga’s ODM has already backed calls for an executive prime minister.
Meanwhile, former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale has dismissed the bid to create another tier of devolved governance. “We will go to a referendum, and we will defeat you in this hyena business,” he said.
Yesterday, Deputy President William Ruto ignored claims that some State officials and business men were plotting to block his 2022 presidential bid. Speaking at a church service cum funds drive at Ng’eny Primary School in aid of more than 20 churches in Turbo constituency, Uasin Gishu County, he instead highlighted Jubilee’s achievements.
The DP said Jubilee’s main agenda in collapsing parties to form one formidable party was to unite Kenyans, irrespective of ethnic or political affiliations.
Leaders from Mt Kenya region who attended the meeting sought to assure the DP of the region’s support in 2022. They included MPs Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu) and David Kiarao (Olkalau) and Kiambu Senator Kimani wa Matangi.
“As Central, we know how far we’ve come with our Rift Valley counterparts and even the president knows this. We’re solidly behind the DP,” he said.
Uasin Gishu County Assembly Speaker David Kiplagat, who is also the North Rift Speakers Association Chairman, said that assemblies in the region would throw out the referendum proposal if tabled.
National Assembly chief whip Benjamin Wasiali termed those calling for referendum tribalists who wanted to divide the country, while Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi said Kenyans were tired of endless politics.