A struggle has rocked Deputy President William Ruto’s team over the scramble for the running mate that could explode ahead of the May 16 deadline.

The Star has established the bigwigs around Ruto are embroiled in bitter regional and personal jousting that risks causing bitter rifts.

ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and his lieutenants have insisted they would not accept Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua as the Kenya Kwanza second in command.

A confidant of Mudavadi said they have no problem with Ruto picking a running mate from Mt Kenya, but that person must not be Gachagua.

“We have no problem with most of those who have been named as possible running mates, except for Gachagua,” the source confided to the Star.

Gachagua was the first to openly declare Musalia would not deputise Ruto and was adamant the position was the preserve of Mt Kenya.

The statement infuriated Musalia’s team who told him to transition from what they termed a “regional UDA mindset”.

Musalia’s team also insisted that should ODM leader Raila Odinga retain Wiper boss Kalonzo Musyoka as his deputy, then Ruto should name him as running mate.

They called this a formula that will give Ruto an advantage in in both Western and in Mt Kenya.

Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali confirmed various people are “seriously” lobbying for the job.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission set May 16 as the deadline for presidential candidates to submit the names of their running mates.

“People are just fighting for their space,” high-ranking UDA member Washiali said.

“Obviously there are people lobbying in groups and individually, there are those setting up others against each other.”

Others being considered for the job are National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and his Kandara counterpart Alice Wahome.

A controversial social media post by Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria came close to lifting the lid on the intense lobbying.

“It is so decided,” Kuria said and Facebook and posted the picture of Muturi.

RUNNING MATE? Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua speaks during the party’s National Delegates Conference held at Bomas of Kenya

However, there are those within Ruto’s camp who see Muturi as a Johnny-come-lately with questionable loyalties.

They fault the Speaker for overseeing the bloodbath of the DP’s allies in Parliament in a purge ordered by President Uhuru Kenyatta. High-ranking officials lost their posts and power.

The aim was to diminish Deputy President William Ruto and his influence.

With Lusaka as Speaker, the Jubilee Party kicked out Aden Duale as National Assembly Majority leader and Washiali who was the Majority Whip.

Also purged was then Majority Deputy Whip Cecily Mbarire.

Some observers claim the plot to kick out Ruto’s lieutenants from parliamentary leadership posts was hatched in Parliament.

Some of the President’s aides were hovering in Parliament during the purges.

Information gleaned from several MPs allied to Ruto in both UDA and the larger Kenya Kwanza Alliance revealed the contest for deputy is pitting new comers against UDA founders.

Then there is the battle between Central Kenya and Mt Kenya East.

In one camp is a faction comprising perceived founders of UDA insisting the running mate slot belongs UDA party ‘pioneer members’.

Among pioneer UDA founders are Gachagua and Alice Wahome.

Critically, Ruto elevated the ranking of Gachagua and Wahome within UDA’s pecking order when he inked a deal with Musalia and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula.

The two have been occupying front row seats in political rallies alongside Ruto, Musalia, Wetang’ula, Garissa Town MP Aden Duale and Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki.

The second camp comprises youthful politicians coalescing around Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah.

This group includes Nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura.

The third camp is comprised of politicians perceived to be the Johnnys-come-lately into both UDA and the Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

They include Waiguru and Muturi.

High-ranking UDA politicians from Mt Kenya reportedly are also secretly approaching some of Ruto’s trusted allies from Rift Valley to lobby for them.

There is a strong feeling among the politicians from Central region—Nyeri, Kiambu, Murang’a, Nyandarua, diaspora Nakuru, Laikipia and Kirinyaga—that the DP should pick a Kikuyu as running mate.

Those rooting for the proposition argue that given that Central region is the single largest voting bloc with more than 4.6 million votes, they deserve the position, having forgone the presidency.

“If we decided to let go the Presidency, then the least Central Kenya can take home is the position of the deputy president,” a Kikuyu MP confided, declining to go on the record.

However, another camp is fronting the East of Mt Kenya for the position with Kindiki, one of the UDA founders, leading the pack.

Kenya’s founding President Jomo Kenyatta, third President Mwai Kibaki and current President Uhuru Kenyatta all came from Central.

If Ruto decided to pick his running mate from the East, then he would consider either Kindiki or Muturi.

Analysts say he would be guided by key virtues, including choosing a non-divisive politician who can be a unifying factor.

Political analyst Martin Andati told the Star the DP will most likely pick a politician who doesn’t have much political clout because he is determined to galvanise Mt Kenya behind him alone.

“Ruto will not pick anyone from Central Kenya because he believes, and indeed he has the command of the Kikuyu nation, and does not want anyone who will upstage him there,” he told the Star.

Andati said Ruto will settle for a politician from the East who will not threaten his grip on Mt Kenya in the future.

“All indications are that Ruto has settled on Kindiki, he has the money, has strong grasp of policy and understands the workings of government — and above all, he is a true loyalist, that is what Ruto wants,” Andati added.

Further, it is speculated Ruto might play a trump card on his main opponent, ODM leader Raila Odinga, and pick Waiguru should the Azimio camp settle on Narc Kenya boss Martha Karua.

On Tuesday last week, Ruto met Kindiki, Gachagua and Muturi at his Karen office in what was seen as part of the running mate talks.

By the star

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