Has Raila’s rising popularity in Mt Kenya forced Ruto to abandon it in favour of Mudavadi, Wetangula?

Details have emerged as to why Deputy President William Ruto appears to have reneged on his promise to award Mt Kenya region the running mate position for the August polls instead opting to rope in Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi.

Sources say DP Ruto who is also United Democratic Alliance(UDA) party leader has been running short of options following Azimio La Umoja presidential hopeful Raila Odinga’s growing popularity in the region.

Mr Odinga on January 15 held his first well attended political rally at Thika’s Green Stadium in which thousands of his supporters turned up much to the surprise of UDA party hierarchy.

DP Ruto’s headache now remains on how he will navigate the region to ensure his choice of Mudavadi (though not yet officially confirmed) as running mate will not upset the support base which is now set to cause a major fall out in his inner circles.

The Sunday declaration by Ruto that he is set to hold joint political rallies with Mudavadi going forward is set to send a feeling of isolation among wheelbarrow party supporters in Mt Kenya where at one time the DP claimed to have put it under lock and key.

With more than five million voters spread across Kiambu, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Nyandarua, Meru, Embu, Tharaka Nithi and Laikipia counties as well as Nakuru County, Mount Kenya looks promising for Raila who is set to woo the vote-rich region with a running mate slot.

This was immediately captured by political analyst Mutahi Nguniyi in a tweet after Ruto and Mudavadi teamed up at the Bomas of Kenya during ANC’s delegates conference.

“Dear Kikuyus. Ruto’s running mate is Musalia Mudavadi. End of discussion. Kikuyus to meza mate: Mudavadi to kula Nyama. Is this suicide or cleverness from Ruto? Bomas”

DPRuto, while not a native son, has been exuding confidence about his personal influence on the local politics of Mt Kenya and appears to believe his popularity will more than compensate for the running mate’s shortcomings.

But in an election in which the Deputy President needs a clean sweep of vote in the region to stand a chance of winning the presidency, his latest dalliance with Mudavadi and For Kenya leader Moses Wetangula has sent togues wagging over his change of tune.

The ODM leader has made significant inroads in the region where he has bagged the support of almost all the governors and MPs in the Mt Kenya region which according to political observers has unsettled the UDA brigade over the past few months.

Political analyst Tom Mboya recently said for the DP and ODM leader to fully consolidate Mt Kenya votes, they will have to find someone who has a huge following at the regional level and marketable nationally.

“Given the numbers from Mt Kenya, political and financial influence of the region and that they have held the presidency for so long, they cannot be ignored. It then makes sense for serious presidential contenders to leverage on a running mate from that region,” said Mboya.

It therefore appears DP Ruto seems to have hit a dead end in his search for a running mate from the Mt Kenya region after potential individuals appeared not to buy his idea of joining the UDA party by first dissolving their own parties.

Major political heavyweights from the region such as Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, Narc-Kenya Martha Karua, The Service Party leader Mwangi Kiunjuri have all along been have remained elusive for DP Ruto who wanted somebody with a national appeal.

As of Sunday Mt Kenya, residents were left in the dark as to which position DP Ruto will dangle to region given that constitutionally Mudavadi will not be the presidential aspirant deputized by Ruto in their planned joint ticket in the August 9 polls.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, former Cabinet Secretary Kiunjuri, Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria are among politicians touted to be possible running mates for the DP.

All of them are allied to political parties which they are actively popularising across the country ahead of the elections.

Others who have reportedly been mentioned in the past as being Ruto’s possible running mate are Senators Mithika Linturi (Meru), Irungu Kang’ata (Murang’a), and Prof Kithure Kindiki (Tharaka Nithi).

According to Limuru based political commentator Jared Njuguna the Mt Kenya region will have to reconsider their support for DP Ruto given the latest developments. “The Ruto-Mudavadi ticket has definitely locked out the Mt Kenya region from DP Ruto’s political arithmetic. Which means the region will have to wait for 20 years to produce another president. I believe the DP is not serious in his quest since he has also abandoned us at a time, we expected him to sacrifice all his options for the sake of the support we gave him when he claimed to have been edged out of Jubilee party. Majority of residents are set to troop to Azimio La Umoja,” Njuguna said.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s planned visit across the country for a thanks-giving tour for the support Kenyans gave him during his 10-year term in office is also said to have jolted DP Ruto’s political wing after it was revealed the president will spill the beans over his fall out with Ruto.

During the much-anticipated tour President Kenyatta is expected to kick start his thanks-giving tour in the Mt Kenya region which may have forced UDA strategists to craft the UDA-ANC pact over fears of DP Ruto diminishing fortunes in the mountain.

Since 2018 DP Ruto has pitched tent in the region, engaging locals, attending events including church service, to woo the vote-rich region with a promise of picking a running mate from the region.

However, the Sunday ANC delegates meeting christened ‘the earthquake’ in which Ruto and Mudavadi announced they will hold rallies in Nakuru on Wednesday, Western Kenya on Friday then Central Kenya on Saturday will be a wait-and-see affair.

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