Top politicians from the UDA Party, specifically from the vote-rich Mount Kenya region, President William Ruto’s political stronghold, are sceptical of the proposal.
They are interpreting it as a plot to weaken Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s political influence and disrupt his presidential ambitions in the future within the Party. Gachagua hails from the Mount Kenya region.
3 new positions
Edward Muriu, UDA’s head of legal affairs has come out to defend the proposals saying the party constitution allows for the three slots of deputies.
Muriu explained that apart from President William Ruto, who is the party leader and Gachagua, his deputy, the two other deputies will be tasked with the responsibilities of ensuring the party is on the right path in policy and strategy matters, operations and programmes.
He adds that the two slots are expected to be filled by political heavyweights from the Western Region – Prime Cabinet Secretary who doubles as Foreign Affairs Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula, speaker of the National Assembly.
“Gachagua should not worry at all. He will be above them in the party ranking order,” he says.
Pushing the smaller parties
Mudavadi and Wetangula both have their small Parties ANC and FORD Kenya respectively forming the Kenya Kwanza coalition with UDA being the larger party.
The two parties have been under pressure to fold their parties and join UDA.
However, Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga, a political confidant to Gachagua, vehemently opposes the plans. He urges that having Mudavadi and Wentangula in those positions will water down the position and influence of Gachagua as Ruto’s Deputy.
“This will be an insult to the voters of Mt Kenya region, who are major shareholders in this government. Any plans to twist the region would be met with unequivocal opposition,” he says.
This is being echoed by Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga, another senior politician from the region within the same ruling party who is warning that the party risk being split.
“We shall have a weak party due to three centres of power competing to perform the same roles,” he warned.
Some support from within
However, Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, another UDA senior politician from the Western Region, supports the proposals.
He accuses Deputy President Gachagua of using his political proxy to try and weaken senior politicians in Western region.
Khalwale insists that Ruto’s successor must come from the Western region in the future, and the Presidency must not go back to the Mount Kenya region.
“It has to be clear. Deputy President Gachagua must leave with Ruto in 2032,” He told UDA supporters.
In the past, Mudavadi and Wetangula have opposed plans to fold their parties and join the UDA Party.
“That is not our priority at the moment. We want to strengthen our political parties,” Mudavadi responded when asked if he will fold his ANC Party and join UDA.
While the infighting continues within UDA, Kevin Ochol, Nairobi-based political analyst, tells The Africa Report that he does not foresee the two joining Ruto’s Party.
“They will not fold their parties because that’s what they use for bargaining their influence in the Kenya Kwanza government,” Ochol says.
He adds that the storm among the UDA politicians in Mount Kenya and Western Region is all about succession politics and each side consolidating their regional base ahead of 2027 polls.
“This is all who might succeed Ruto in the future. It seems to be between Gachagua and Mudavadi. The infighting will continue,” he adds.
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