Kenya News

Deputy President Ruto in hectic campaign, tracks Raila Odinga’s movement

Deputy President William Ruto has drawn a hectic campaign itinerary in which he appears to be tracking the movement of his most formidable opponent ODM leader Raila Odinga.

The plan is to undo the inroads that Raila could have made in a series of political engagements through the Azimio la Umoja forays.

DP Ruto is also going flat out to outsmart President Uhuru Kenyatta in his Mt Kenya backyard after a section of the region’s political and business elite came out to back Raila last week.

Insiders in Ruto’s camp say the DP will in the coming days go full throttle to ring-fence the support he has been enjoying in Mt Kenya days after Uhuru signalled he could openly campaign for Raila.

The Star has established the DP will be rolling out his campaign targeting the youth, women groups and the church—a strategy believed to have endeared him to this constituency.

Ruto’s troops have also launched a campaign against the region’s tycoons, most of whom have said they’ll back Raila’s presidential bid.

However, to maintain his grip on the region, Ruto wants to market his bottom-up economic model with the promise that if elected President, his administration will set aside funds for ‘hustlers’ to start or boost their businesses.

According to Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, the DP and his brigade will not give room for Raila to overtake them in the presidential race.

“The hustler movement is unstoppable. The DP has been part of Mt Kenya people for years now and over that period, he has endeared himself to the people, he has stood with us in times of need and participated in the development agenda of the region,” he told the Star.

Raila has in the last two months crisscrossed the country spreading his agenda through the Azimio la Umoja forums.

So far, the ODM leader has addressed six of such critical meetings in Nakuru, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Mombasa, Kajiado, and Garissa.

In response, the DP has embarked on meet-the-people tours in the same regions.

Weeks after Raila toured the Kisii region, the DP camped in South Nyanza from Saturday evening, meeting local leaders at Camel Park, Kisii town.

On Sunday, he graced two functions at Deliverance Church within Kisii town and at Kenyenya Catholic Church.

In the afternoon, he launched the NG-CDF office for Bomachage Chache constituency and later addressed roadside meetings at Ogembo, Ikoba, Tabaka, and Suneka markets.

On Monday, Ruto started his day with a meeting with a section of the clergy from Pentecostal churches at Camel Park Hotel, Kisii town, and at midday, he toured South Mugirango where he handed over school buses at Bogichoncho and Nyakembene secondary schools.

He addressed a roadside gathering at Etago market.

Ruto was expected to end the Kisii tour on Tuesday and head to Narok county where he will camp for some days.

The DP is expected to pitch camp in Kilgoris for three days, where he will engage grassroots leaders from the Maasai community.

On Friday, he will be in Kajiado county where he will also meet grassroots leaders from Kajiado East.

Three weeks ago, Raila was in Kajiado county where he hosted community leaders who endorsed him to succeed President Kenyatta.

From Kajiado county, the DP is expected to take his campaign to Northeastern counties.

He will start the visit from Isiolo before traversing Marsabit, Wajir, Mandera, Tana River then Lamu.

Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwá said Kenyans struggling against poverty should inform the direction of the country’s politics and not those perpetuating dynasties.

Ichungwá dismissed a section of Mt Kenya tycoons backing Raila, saying their focus is only on retaining the status quo which benefits them at the expense of the majority.

“The people of Mt Kenya know their leaders. They have never followed brokers. Even from our recent political history, you will notice there was the Central province development support group during the Nyayo regime that then metamorphosed into this so-called Mt Kenya Foundation,” he said.

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro said Ruto remains the presidential candidate of choice for the people of Mt Kenya.

He described the DP as a development-conscious leader who has gained the trust of the region.

In a phone interview with the Star, Nyoro said they are not scared of Uhuru-Raila joint forces, saying their coming together through the March 2018 handshake has impoverished the people of Mt Kenya.

“Through the handshake and the Building Bridges Initiative, the people of Mt Kenya were fought, thousands were evicted from their residences, and leaders holding positions in Parliament were removed. If that could happen when it was just a handshake, what about when he will be in power? We will not go that direction not even with a bullet on our heads,” he said.

Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki said the hope of all Kenyans is in the Deputy President, noting that Kenya is ready for liberation from leaders who have perpetuated state capture.

“Bottom-up economics will give significant attention and will allocate considerable resources to promote micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and thereby tackle unemployment and lift millions of struggling Kenyans from poverty,” he said.

“It is natural for the billionaires of the elusive “Made in Kenya” school of economics to fight attempts to spread wealth evenly in our nation to protect their state capture forever.”


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