Ruto tightens grip on UDA to counter Raila onslaught
Deputy President William Ruto is tightening his grip on the United Democratic Alliance as he prepares for a tough battle with the Azimio La Umoja movement led by rival presidential candidate Raila Odinga.
On Wednesday, Ruto chaired the party’s first National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting at his official residence in Karen where members were officially unveiled. They had been gazetted last December.
NEC’s meeting came as Raila is also busy assembling his campaign team in readiness for his fifth, and possibly final, stab at the presidency.
He recently appointed Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi to lead his campaign team that comprises senior politicians and renown technocrats.
The UDA meeting, which comprised 29 officials led by Chairman Johnstone Muthama, has been tasked with developing Ruto’s campaign strategy that should be made public soon.
His strategy will largely be based on Ruto’s Bottom-up economic model he has been promoting countrywide.
Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok and UDA head of campaign secretariat also attended the meeting.
“NEC is now fully-fledged. The first meeting was attended by over 90 per cent of its members. We expect a full house in the next meeting.
NEC will start setting up party structures and ensuring every organ of the party is operational,” UDA Secretary-General Veronica Maina told People Daily.
Sources say the team has also been tasked with putting in place a National Elections Board before the end of January.
It is expected to constitute non-partisan individuals who will be in charge of nominations scheduled for April.
The party’s primaries are expected to be hotly contested in its strongholds although Ruto has promised to ensure they will be free and fair.
“Elections Board will be in place by the end of the month. It will be in charge of nominations and it is the body that will come up with the date to conduct them. We will work closely with the board once it is in place,” Maina said.
Other senior NEC members are Omingo Magara (National Treasurer), Karisa Nzai (Organising Secretary), three deputy chairpersons Seth Panyako (Deputy, Programmes), Marete Kimanthi (Strategy) and Kipruto Kirwa (Operations).
The two deputy SGs Eliud Owalo (Strategy) and Daniel ole Sambu (Programmes) are also members.
UDA took time to name individuals to the positions as it searched for figures across the nation in a bid to project itself as a national outfit.
NEC will also play a significant role in the search for Ruto’s running-mate.
Recently, Muthama told People Daily they had identified a number of potential individuals who could qualify for the position, adding that talks were ongoing to identify the most suitable.
He said they might wait until May, if need be, to name the person.
“We have not settled on anyone now but we have many qualified candidates for the position.
Our choice will not be based on a particular community or individual but we are looking for someone who will promote the unity message we are pursuing as a party. Our intention is to bring all Kenyans together,” he said.
“We are in no hurry to name the running mate. We are still within what the law requires of us.
The electoral agency requires us to present our presidential ticket by May,” he added.