Deputy President William Ruto has dismissed reports of ongoing talks between him and ODM leader Raila Odinga to forge a pre-election deal.
On Monday, Ruto’s office said the DP has neither met Raila’s emissaries nor sent people to negotiate any political deal.
Ruto’s director of communication Emmanuel Talam told the Star that the meeting between Ruto and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya had nothing to do with Raila.
It was not immediately clear if Ruto’s interest is only in snatching Oparanya from ODM.
Oparanya — ODM deputy party leader and former Council of Governors chairman— has become an influential politician in his Western backyard.
“I can tell you without any fear or doubt that there are no talks about 2022 between the Deputy President and the former Prime Minister. If and when they happen, they will be made public,”Talam told the Star, terming the alleged coalition talks a creation of the media.
Allies of the DP from Mt Kenya have also rubbished any such coalition, saying Ruto and Raila were ideologically incompatible.
Last week on Thursday, Ruto and Oparanya met at Mahali Mzuri camp at the heart of the vast Masai Mara National Reserve.
Also in attendance were former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and former Sports CS Rashid Echesa.
A day after the meeting, Oparanya trooped to Raila’s home reportedly to brief him about the talks.
The governor has said he called Raila and informed him about the meeting with Ruto.
“The DP asked about how my county was doing. We talked about possible alliances, which only the party leadership can sanction. But don’t forget there are no permanent friends and enemies in politics, only interests,”Oparanya stated.
Speculation of a Ruto-Raila deal has not gone down well with the DP’s Central Kenya allies.
Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, a close confidant of the DP, said a coalition with the former Prime Minister has not been discussed.
He said the “media spin is the work of competitors who want to toss Raila to our side to make it easy for them to make their own line up”.
“They know Uhuru is unpopular in Central for allowing Raila into his government. It is an open secret that Raila has been part and parcel of the Jubilee administration since 2018. To be honest, it is difficult in Mt Kenya,”he said.
The vocal MP said “there is also the issue of ideological differences where Ruto believes in bottom up economy and empowering the common citizens while Raila believes in an economy that enriches the top of the pyramid”.
“Raila has fought the empowerment of hustlers, he is against harambees for religious organisations, in fact, his men have sponsored a bill to punish people who organise harambees. We on this other side are rooting for hustlers,”he said.
Late last month Ruto said he is ready to reunite with Raila and in a rare praise, applauded the ODM leader for his belief in national political parties.
But Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro said on Monday that there is no likelihood of Ruto and Raila coming together.
“We have said the time is up for the dynasties who have misruled this country. The 2022 elections will be a do-or -die for us because it will be marking a new beginning in all aspects. Currently, the presidential race is so expensive and has become a reserve of the few wealthy people but when we get rid of these dynasties, any Kenyan with good vision for this country can easily run and win the presidency,”he said.
He said the move will defeat their rallying call to use next year’s elections to vanquish ‘dynasties’.
Kirinyaga Woman Representative Purity Ngirici said Ruto enjoys support across the country and Raila “will not add much value”.
“We have MPs, MCAs and governors from every corner of this country forming a massive web of Ruto’s supporters. We have seen Uhuru meeting with a section of Coast governors in a bid to form a Coastal party, they are reducing Raila to a Luo Nyanza leader,”she said.
However, Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said Raila and Ruto should forget Mt Kenya votes, if they decide to form a joint team.
“If Ruto and Raila were to work together, we are back to 2007. Mt Kenya would unite away from both. If Uhuru did not support the Raila/Ruto coalition he would then easily swing the region to support anyone else,”Ngunjiri posted on his Facebook page.
“The motivation that usually kick in to motivate a focused and united political direction in the region would then kick in and the entire eight million Mt Kenya votes would be in one basket.”
Minority leader John Mbadi, who doubles as ODM national chairman, said the coalition talk is misplaced, noting that the party is focused on the constitutional amendment drive.
“ODM’s priority at the moment is not on building coalitions. We still want to dispense with BBI Bill and referendum before we consider 2022 elections and possible coalitions,”Mbadi said.