Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua will not support a handshake between President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga even if it were to materialise.

Mr Gachagua’s declaration on Thursday has echoes of the protests Dr Ruto, as deputy president in 2018, waged throughout the then President Uhuru Kenyatta’s second term, disapproving of his handshake with opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Mr Gachagua said he will walk a similar path were his boss to seal a similar deal.

“Even if a handshake were to happen, I cannot be part of it. You  know  what happens every time you enter into a handshake with him. You saw what happened when he entered into one with our leader in Mt Kenya, whom we  respected. You know what happened next. Things started going wrong,” he said at the African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa (AIPCA) in Limuru, Kiambu County.

The AIPCA continues to feature prominently in political matter. It was at the centre of the battle for Mt Kenya between President Kenyatta and his deputy, Dr Ruto, in the run-up  to last year’s presidential vote.

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On April 14 last year, President Kenyatta used a forum at the AIPCA Gakarara in Kandara, Murang’a  County, to break his silence on whether he would be hitting the road to campaign for his preferred  presidential candidate, Mr Odinga.

The year 2020 saw a bloody confrontation in an attempt to block Dr Ruto, then the deputy president, from furthering his Mt Kenya campaigns. This took place at Kenol in Murang’a as the DP headed to the local AIPCA church.

The AIPCA has also had long running feuds that saw the formation of a splinter church, the African Independent Pentecostal Church of Kenya (AIPCK).

AIPCA’s top leaders told Nation they have more than 3,000 churches across the country, with a total membership of 3.2 million.

‘’AIPCA is one of the biggest churches, with many followers in Kenya. That is why you see it is preferred  by many politicians. The divisions you see in the church are planted  by the politicians to split the numbers in their favour,” said a senior official who sought anonymity.

“Currently, AIPCA has 3.2 million members  across  the country, with over 3,200  churches. Politicians know we have a huge rural concentration that would favour them.”

The  leadership row between AIPCA and AIPCK has been going on  for decades. It started with the fallout between Arch bishops Samson Gaitho and John Mugecha, with the latter exiting to form AIPCK.

The issues then trickled down to regional churches.


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