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Kenya: Dep President Ruto accused of threatening Governor Mutua

By Morris Kiruga, in Nairobi
Posted on Tuesday, 17 December 2019 13:47

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta and Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto L) attend the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative REUTERS/Monica Mwangi

A sitting governor has claimed that he was threatened by the country’s Deputy President, as Kenya's political elite try to shape their 2022 platforms.

Alfred Mutua, a second-term governor of Machakos County, said on Monday that Deputy President William Ruto, Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen and Leader of the Majority in Parliament, Aden Duale, threatened him on two different occasions.

At a press briefing outside a Nairobi police station, and a statement shared online, he recreated two separate conversations he says took place between late November and early December.

  • At State House Nairobi on November 25th, Governor Mutua says, Senator Murkomen and Duale told him they would ‘deal with him’ because he had been attacking the DP Ruto.
  • Mutua also says that Duale also threatened members of his community who live in his (Duale’s constituency). ““Utafanya nini? Don’t you know there are 50, 000 Kambas in Garissa and I can deal with them.”
  • Two weeks later, at a banquet in honour of a visiting Prime Minister, Mutua says the Deputy President told him “I must now crush you. I will crush you.”

Mutua said he had decided to report and publicise the threats because of “Kenya’s history of political assasinations, political violence and intolerance.”

While the Deputy President has not responded to the threat claims, Senator Murkomen said Governor Mutua is “of no consequence”, and that the claims were “another episode of his cobra squad series”, in reference to a police procedural series the governor produced in 2008.

Background to the threats

Governor Mutua, who is constitutionally barred from running for the gubernatorial seat again, has said he will run for the presidency in 2022.

A former government spokesman, he left former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Party in 2016 and started his own.

Both Mutua and Musyoka are from the Akamba community, Kenya’s fifth largest community and a key electoral base.

  • The death threat claims came just days after Musyoka, who was Raila Odinga’s running mate in 2013 and 2017, has denied claims by his allies that he is working with DP Ruto.
  • Ruto is still seen as the frontrunner to succeed President Kenyatta, but he has been struggling to balance between his current position and building formidable alliances outside the ruling party.
  • At the same time, Musyoka has faced mounting challenges, as Governor Mutua and two of his colleagues in the region have built their own political platforms and have been directly challenging his position in his home base.

Such changing dynamics are bound to shape Kenya’s political scene in 2020, as its presidential candidates shift alliances and fight for an edge over their likely opponents.

Already, the East African nation’s ruling party has all but split into two broad groupings, and the relationship between President Kenyatta and his Deputy President has grown icy, with their allies publicly pulling from different sides.

The schism is clear even among Kenyatta’s new allies, especially opposition leader Raila Odinga and his former running mate.

For example, Musyoka said talk of him working with DP Ruto was “a desperate attempt to drive a wedge between [him] and HE the President.”

  • While he directly challenged Kenyatta in the last two elections as Odinga’s running mate, Musyoka is now President Kenyatta’s special envoy to the South Sudan peace process.

Bottom Line: Mutua’s claims that his life is in danger, especially from three of the country’s top leaders, present a dangerous prospect of how the fight for Kenya’s top seat might escalate as the electoral date moves closer.

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