A number of fense-sitting Jubilee MPs are under pressure to declare their stand in the ongoing power struggle between camps allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto.
The pressure, according to multiple sources, has been in the form of phone calls and sometimes thinly veiled threats from key Kieleweke and Tanga Tanga leaders. Leaders from both sides had been using Uhuru and Ruto’s names to compel “neutral” MPs to toe the line.
The rift between the two camps continue to widen with Kiambu Woman Representative Gathoni wa Muchomba accused MPs from Mt Kenya region in the Tanga Tanga movement of betrayal.
“When they were campaigning, they told the people that they will support the President, but now they have turned against him. They are traitors,” she said.
On the other hand, Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, who is rooting for Ruto challenged his rivals – team Kieleweke – to openly start campaigning for Opposition leader Raila Odinga.”The President is with us. We love and support him 100 per cent. Kieleweke should sell their candidate Raila without hiding,” he said.
Tanga Tanga is composed of MPs backing Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid, while the Kieleweke team is bitterly opposed to the DP’s ambitions and has lately been joined in meetings by MPs allied to Raila.
The catch phrase in the threats has been that by remaining neutral, the MPs risked “annoying” either Uhuru or Ruto.
“Both sides are pushing us to declare our stand, but I’m very concerned that the Tanga Tanga-Kieleweke wars are dividing Mt Kenya region, which is slowly turning from a stronghold into a battle ground,” said Nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura.”
It is a very unfortunate situation because as Mt Kenya region, we are keen to be in the next government and to determine who becomes president of this country. Are the differences so huge that they cannot be bridged?” he posed.
Starehe MP Charles Njagua alias Jaguar, who said he could not afford to identify with either camp, conceded that he had been challenged several times on the corridors of Parliament to declare his stand.
He claimed some of the people invoking the name of the President “do not even have access to him.”“They keep asking us where we belong and telling us that the President has said this or that. Some of these people do not even have access to the President,” said Mr Njagua.
The MP vowed to remain neutral in the simmering rivalry between Tanga Tanga and Kieleweke.
“I support all leaders because I was elected by the people to represent them and I will be judged by my work at the end of five years. I don’t want to trade insults. When it comes to the handshake, it gave me an upper hand to work with all tribes in Nairobi,” he said.
Another MP from Nairobi claimed a key Kieleweke leader told him not to show up at a rally attended by Ruto.
“There was a meeting in Nairobi attended by the Deputy President, and they called me telling me that I should not attend. But I had to attend because I support all leaders, and I don’t belong to any camp,” said the MP.
The political pressure on some MPs is said to have been so intense that a number of them are said to have switched camps, albeit quietly or toned down their support for either camp.
“It is a common question (where I belong) but it is not important. They ask us where we belong, but they cannot force us to declare our stand. You have to respect all tribes and serve the interests of the people who elected you. Some of those asking us where we belong have nothing to lose,” said Embakasi Central MP Mejja Donk.
Mr Nyoro, a key member of the Tanga Tanga team, however dismissed claims of “pressure” arguing that the “fence sitters” were facing a backlash from voters.
Another Tanga Tanga-allied MP, Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), said: “A handful of political activists who have been ODM strategists and spanner boys joined by a few bitter 2017 election losers have been intimidating politicians and coercing them to support their evil scheme.”
Nominated MP Maina Kamanda, a fierce critic of the DP, said: “Those saying that we have been applying pressure on them to come to our camp have seen that the ground has refused to shift with them.”
“They have realized that attacking the handshake will be interpreted as attacking the President. They have also realized that they cannot penetrate Central Province without Uhuru. Even the Deputy President has realized that he will go nowhere without Uhuru,” he said.
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