Deputy President William Ruto’s supporters have hinted at retreating to his former party should his 2022 candidacy in Jubilee prove impossible.
Youth donning United Republican Party colour T-shirts with Dr Ruto’s image and hashtag #teamWSR emblazoned on them turned up when he toured Banana in Kiambu County on Sunday. Jubilee colour is red.
URP merged with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s The National Alliance and other parties ahead of the 2013 elections under the Jubilee alliance banner.
TNA, URP and the other parties later dissolved to form Jubilee Party ahead of the 2017 polls.
Pundits said the “yellow reception”, which appeared well-choreographed, reflected divisions in Jubilee between Mr Kenyatta and Dr Ruto’s supporters.
Mr Ruto had gone for service at St Martin Catholic Church in Karuri. Some local leaders made clear their support for the DP, defying President Kenyatta’s directive on early 2022 campaigns.
They also mobilised the young men and women to receive him.
The youth, who were chanting pro-Ruto slogans also staged a brief march while carrying a banner which had his portrait.
The banner had the phrase “Our Choice 2022”.
Analysts say this could be an indication that Mr Ruto could be planning to go it alone come the next elections.
His supporters have, in thinly-veiled statements, been accusing Mr Kenyatta and his allies of plotting to betray Mr Ruto.
The DP himself says Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga is plotting to kick him out of Jubilee even as his allies read scheme to shortchange him in the deal he reportedly entered with the President to “automatically” succeed him in 2022.
Jubilee logo has red, black and yellow colours, which were largely borrowed from TNA and URP.
Those who accompanied Mr Ruto in Karuri were Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, his Kajiado counterpart Joseph ole Lenku, MPs Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), Jude Njomo (Kiambu Town), Alice Wahome (Kandara) and Catherine Waruguru (Laikipia Woman Representative).
Others were Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East), George Sunkuiya (Kajiado West), Didimas Barasa (Kimilili), Peris Tobiko (Kajiado East) and Janet Teiyan (Kajiado Woman Representative).
The group told off a team of leaders that has been moving around the country showing its support for the President and the handshake between Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.
The President has consistently told the Jubilee rank-and-file and leaders to tone down on politics and instead concentrate on development and his support against corruption.
Mr Ruto’s lieutenants used the service to sing his 2022 bid.
It came just a week after the pro-Kenyatta leaders attended a service at Hallelujah Gospel Church, just a short distance from St Martin Catholic Church, where they asked Mr Ruto and lawmakers allied to him to quit if they are uncomfortable with the fight against corruption.
The President’s allies accuse his deputy of paying leaders to disparage the fight against corruption.
On the other hand, the DP’s supporters say the war on corruption targets him so as to scuttle his 2022 bid.
The wrangles in Jubilee have split central Kenya, with leaders in the two camps hurling insults at one another.
Kiambu Woman Representative Gathoni wa Muchomba and area MP Paul Koinage kept off the Karuri church service, opting to join the pro-Kenyatta team in Gatanga, Murang’a County.
By Daily Nation