President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Mt Kenya backyard has turned into the unlikely battleground in the 2022 race.

This has mostly been as a result of the fallout between Uhuru and his deputy William Ruto coupled by the collapse of their ruling party – Jubilee.

Ahead of the 2017 elections, it appeared that Uhuru was ready to support Ruto as his successor and the assumption was that the region would remain intact in Jubilee.

Ruto has however been taking advantage of the fallout that emerged in Mt Kenya after the handshake between Uhuru and ODM leader Raila Odinga in 2018.

To consolidate the support he gained through the 2013 and 2017 campaigns, Ruto has repeatedly assured the region that he is loyal to Uhuru despite their fallout.

His messaging has also been key to the Mt Kenya base which has complained about unfavourable economic policies from Uhuru’s administration.

Uhuru was seen to have abandoned the region after the handshake creating a leadership vacuum that Ruto has capitalised on indirectly.

Uhuru has been an absentee regional kingpin who has spent more time outside his Mt Kenya base even as the region seeks direction on the 2022 politics.

With no clear regional successor, Mt Kenya became a key political harvesting ground for Ruto who has taken embraced those who are disgruntled.

His hustler narrative has been resonating with millions of young people in Mt Kenya who feel that the Uhuru administration has not done enough for the region.

Immediately after the 2017 elections, Ruto started identifying point-men in the region and the aftermath of the handshake came as a blessing for him.

The handshake was not fully embraced in the Mt Kenya region and Uhuru had to hold several meetings in the area to explain it to the residents.

It also came with collateral damage where those seen to be against it ended up being dewhipped from leadership positions in Parliament.

Most of them ended up in Ruto’s camp and the DP has been using them to campaign against the handshake and BBI in the region.

With divisions in Mt Kenya very apparent, Ruto joined forces with Mt Kenya politicians such as Mwangi Kiunjuri and Moses Kuria to diminish Jubilee’s fortunes in the region.

In the recent by-elections, Ruto’s hand in Uhuru’s losses within his Kiambu home county was evident.

In Juja, though Ruto did not have a candidate, his lieutenants in the region support Kuria’s candidate who emerged as the winner.

In Kiambaa, his party – UDA – narrowly defeated Jubilee cementing his footprint in the region.

A majority of Mt Kenya elected leaders now associate with UDA leading the Jubilee Party handing on threads.

As it has emerged, Mt Kenya politicians who had already thrown their weight behind Raila have been making an about-turn and seeking to negotiate with all aspirants including Ruto.



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