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Uncertainty rocks Mt Kenya UDA base over the running mate slot after MP Gachagua’s sudden exit – many see it as a preserve for Musalia Mudavadi

BY FRED MAKANA

The decision by Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua to opt to go for his parliamentary seat in the August 9 polls has left United Democratic Alliance (UDA) supporters in Mt Kenya region convinced the running mate slot is earmarked for Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi.

Mr Gachagua announced on Thursday that he would defend his seat through the UDA ticket. Sources have told News Today the recent activation of Jubilee Party is giving UDA sleepless nights. The declaration by the ruling party’s bigwigs led by its new secretary general Jeremiah Kioni that they will drive the yellow party out of Mt Kenya has caused nightmares for the wheelbarrow sympathizers.

On Thursday Gachagua posted a receipt of the payment he had made as stipulated by the UDA National Elections Board (NEB).

“I have officially left my former party Jubilee and joined the party of the future, UDA,” Gachagua posted on his Facebook page.

Gachagua’s decision to step down from the national politics comes days after he faced sharp criticism from affiliate members of the Kenya Kwanza Alliance after he claimed that DP Ruto’s running mate in the August elections will come from Mt Kenya region.

Multiple interviews carried out by News Today indicated most of the residents were hopeful that he could be given the opportunity to deputize DP Ruto in the August elections.

“Some of us have learnt with surprise the declaration by Gachagua that he will be defending his Mathira seat. With all the vigorous energy and vibrance he has displayed during the UDA/Kenya Kwanza rallies we were convinced he is the man for the job but it appears we cannot rule out Mudavadi’s chances,” said Mwikali Nyambura a resident of Nyeri.

On December 22 while on a tour of Nyeri Ruto dropped hints that he may pick Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua as a possible running mate or hand him a senior role in government when he asked voters to free him for a national role.

In a series of speeches in Nyeri, Dr Ruto acknowledged Mr Gachagua as an asset, asking residents to let him join him in the “journey” ahead.

“Huyu kanda ya wira si mnipatie anisaidie wira kwa pande hiyo ingine. Si mtanipatia kanda ya wira anisaidie kutafuta kura ya Kenya. (Allow your MP who delivers to join me in the next stage. Will you allow him to help me get the votes?”) Dr Ruto posed.

His sentiments were echoed by several politicians who joined the DP in the Nyeri campaign trail a week after ODM leader Raila Odinga toured the region.

“We want you to release Rigathi Gachagua to go hunt for the presidential vote,” Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa said in Kieni, Mathira Constituency.

However, Charles Kariuki a political commentator based in Muranga told News Today that the entry of ANC and Ford Kenya has been changing and complicating political arithmetic in UDA and he says the running mate position is no longer a preserve of Mt Kenya.

“In politics all interests matter and it appears Mudavadi is set to get the running mate slot. The trip to the US is a game changer in so many things. Mudavadi has a long experience in government and international connections and when the position is up for grabs none of the politicians from Mt Kenya will match his credentials. It is high time Mt Kenya voters learn to live with this political realignment,” Kariuki said.

On his part Caren Muraguri said Gachagua must have seen light at the end of the tunnel due to tight election timelines. “There is no need to wait for a position you have already sensed that it has been taken. The limelight the likes of Gachagua are getting is no longer in place especially in rallies they have been left to play a second fiddle in Kenya Kwanza matters,” she said.

In an interview on Monday with Citizen TV, Gachagua further said that Musalia Mudavadi was subject to discussion and that the ANC leader together with the other Kenya Kwanza Alliance leaders were aware that the running mate will be from Mt Kenya.

“We don’t want to con someone. They will not be running mates,” he added.

Despite this assurance, Jackline Nyakio, another political commentator, differs and says Gachagua may have sensed more than what meets the eye and opted to keep what is within his reach.

“As days go by the stakes are high and it will be no surprise if DP Ruto has settled on Mudavadi as his running mate. There is a feeling that Mudavadi can deliver more votes in comparison to most first-term MPs Ruto is relying on to deliver the Mt Kenya vote,” she quipped.

Gachagua who has been touted as a possible running mate of DP Ruto has instead announced his intentions to retain his Mathira constituency’s parliamentary seat on the UDA party ticket.

The lawmaker revealed his intentions moments after he officially quit the Jubilee Party.

He upheld that he will be seeking to defend his MP seat and urged his challengers to brave for a serious face-off.

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