For the past few months, the battle for the vote-populous Mt Kenya region has been playing out behind the scenes but it now appears that it has been blown to the public.
Deputy President William Ruto’s claims that several government officials from Mt Kenya region were holding meeting to plan his assassination was a declaration of war against President Uhuru Kenyatta.
It is not in doubt that Ruto has managed to turn the tables against Kenyatta as far as influence on the Mt Kenya MPs is concerned.
A sizable number of MPs from the Mt Kenya region are loyal to Ruto, much to the chagrin of the President.
It has also helped the DP, that most of the MPs in his camp are youthful and politically gifted.
Coupled with an equally youthful and creative social media team, the DP has been able to win the political soul of the Mt Kenya with a mix of charm, financial prosperity with a dose of propaganda.
An example of brilliant propaganda has been the narrative that the ground is hostile to President Kenyatta, popularized by the phrase “Jeshi ti ngenu” (the youth are not happy).
The narrative has been mostly propagated by the Pro-Ruto Mt Kenya camp with the timely assistance of his social media campaign.
Despite making nearly weekly “development” visits to Mt Kenya region, Ruto has used proxies to convince the people that they have been neglected in terms of development.
Kenyatta’s camp, perhaps knowing the strategy of under development on sand, sought to challenge it by fast-tracking projects in Mt Kenya region – without involving the DP.
It was on this backdrop that President Kenyatta organized senior government officials who are loyal to him, to work on resolving the public anger towards his government – most probably ahead of his planned visits to the region to recoup lost political ground.
It has now emerged that the deputy president called the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), complaining senior government officials were planning to kill him.
Raila Odinga assassination claims
The only person who has come that close was ODM Leader Raila Odinga when he was serving as Prime Minister, but even he used proxies to claim that unnamed rogue officers in the intelligence service wanted to assassinate him.
Ruto’s allegations were a first in Kenya history – the second most powerful man in the government claiming that his life was in danger from his juniors - without offering any evidence!
Firstly, it is highly unlikely that over twenty government officials would meet in a hotel conference hall, probably conversing with the aid of a public address system, to plot the assassination of the country’s second in command.
Secondly, such sensitive information would better have been handled through confidential communication with President Kenyatta who would have launched a quick private investigation and proceed to fire the culpable officials.
The logical explanation for Ruto’s wild claims is that he feels that the President’s technical team is likely to cause him political death, if they extinguish the numerous fires that his proxies have lit in Mt Kenya.
By pointing the finger at the President’s loyal lieutenants, the deputy president is boldly telling Kenyans that he is afraid President Kenyatta may attempt to assassinate him before 2022.
JM Kariuki's death
In the late 1970s, a parliamentary committee probing the death of then popular politician JM Kariuki, implicated President Jomo Kenyatta’s bodyguard and trusted minister Mbiyu Koinange.
When the committee was taken to State House, old Jomo is reported to have asked rhetorically, “Why don’t you just put my name there now that you are mentioning Mbiyu Koinange”.
The old man had a point and Koinange’s name was removed alongside that of the President’s bodyguard Wanyoike Thungu.
Like the committee probing JM’s death, Ruto is basically accusing President Kenyatta of attempting to assassinate him – only without saying the words.
It is hard to tell how this vicious conflict for the soul of the Mt Kenya political soul will end, but it’s safe to say it will be messy, ugly, and it will definitely have casualties.
Tony Mukere is a journalist and political commentator. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Pulse Live Kenya