Kenya: Kipruto Kirwa joins Raila’s Azimio, says Ruto’s UDA party is not democratic

By Victor Abuso
Posted on Tuesday, 31 May 2022 17:53, updated on Tuesday, 28 June 2022 11:33

Kipruto Arap Kirwa has left William Ruto's UDA party and joined Raila Odinga's Azimio la Umoja alliance. (photo: twitter)
Kipruto Arap Kirwa has left William Ruto's UDA party and joined Raila Odinga's Azimio la Umoja alliance. (photo: twitter)

One of Kenya’s top presidential candidates, William Ruto, has suffered a blow after Kipruto Kirwa, the deputy chairman of his United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Party,  joined Raila Odinga’s Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition.

Kirwa, who once served as MP and Agriculture minister during former president Mwai Kibaki’s presidency, announced he was leaving the UDA party because it was not promoting democracy, following Ruto’s choice of Rigathi Gachagua as his running mate.

Speaking to a cheering crowd during Raila’s political rally in Western Kenya on 29 May, he said: “I, Kipruto Kirwa, have resigned as vice chairman of UDA.”

He said his departure from the UDA was influenced by Raila’s choice of Martha Karua as his running mate. He then called on Karua to support his decision. “I can not be where democracy is going to be sacrificed at the cross.”

Winning move for Raila?

While welcoming Kirwa to Raila’s coalition, Karua described him as a leader who has been on the forefront of championing the well-being of Kenyans. “I know my brother Kipruto Kirwa as a hardworking person,” she said.

Kenya’s defence minister Eugene Wamalwa, the patron of the Democratic Action party, said Kirwa’s decision shows Raila will win. “Happy to welcome my brother Kipruto Kirwa to the winning team,” he said.

Second defection

Kirwa is the second high profile UDA official to defect and move over to Raila’s camp in less than two months. Omingo Magara, the Parties National Treasurer, also left after citing the same reasons as Kirwa: a lack of democracy in Ruto’s UDA party.

“My political future and ambitions cannot be sufficiently addressed by the UDA party, I therefore immediately resign,” Magara said in February.

However, reacting to Kirwa’s move, UDA officials say supporters have not followed him to Raila’s party, adding that he did not garner much political influence on the ground to threaten Ruto’s votes.

Maina Karobia, the National Youth Chairman of the UDA party, tells The Africa Report that the rest of the leadership is not surprised by the move of their former vice chairman, describing him as a man whose heart was in Raila’s camp.

“He always opposed our party leader [William Ruto], we are not surprised he left,” he says. “We shall not be distracted, we are busy helping our candidate to change the economy when he wins.”

Brian Wanyama, a political analyst based in Bungoma, says although the move is a sign of bad blood within the leadership of Ruto’s party, Kirwa’s defection will not have a major impact on Ruto because the duo come from the same region.

He adds that politically, in recent years, Kirwa’s influence has diminished. “His moves do not threaten Ruto that much.” He however observes that Raila’s Azimio la Umoja coalition will try to convince Ruto’s supporters that their leader cannot be trusted and that ultimately, UDA has no democratic principles.

Quick biography

  • Born in 1957, served as Member of Parliament if Cherangany constituency
  • Member of Parliament between 1990-2002
  • Served as Agriculture Minister between 2006-2007
  • Served as IGAD Special Envoy to Somalia Peace and National Reconciliation between 2008 and 2012
  • Between 2021-May 2022, served as the Chairman of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party.

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