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Kenya

President Ruto widens the tent

Offering deals and political jobs, the ruling party is getting key opposition politicians to defect

President William Ruto continues to win over supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga in his traditional strongholds in Nyanza (AC Vol 64 No 6, The one-party state bounces back). The President recently gained the support of eight national lawmakers from Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

And his United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party is intensifying its party membership drive in Kisumu, the biggest city in western Kenya. It is also Odinga's political backyard and the UDA has now established an office there.

Last week, Ruto brought about 30 politicians from Odinga's Luo community in Nyanza to State House in Nairobi. They have now all defected to the UDA.

Led by ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo and Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo, also in attendance were the former governors of Nairobi, Migori and Kisumu; Evans Kidero, Okoth Obado and Jack Ranguma.

Kidero, who saw corruption charges against him dropped last week, has now been brought into government as one of 50 Chief Administrative Secretaries – effectively Ministers of State – in what is an increasingly bloated administration.

Lake Victoria South Water Works Development Agency chairman Odoyo Owidi and former legislators Nicholas Gumbo, Edick Anyanga, Martin Ogindo, John Pesa and Rose Nyamunga were also among the delegation.

Ruto also appears to have relented in his vendetta against former President Uhuru Kenyatta's right-hand man, former Ministry of Interior Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiang'i.

Following a raid on Matiangi's home by an elite squad of police officers from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), the former minister was then subjected to a lifestyle audit of his finances, and charged with charges of conspiracy to commit felony and publication of false information.

Those charges were abruptly dropped last week. Matiang'i, one of the most vocal government ministers in support of Odinga ahead of last August's presidential election, attended a unity meeting between fellow Gusii leaders ahead of a planned tour of the Nyanza counties Kisii and Nyamira by Ruto later this week.

Education minister Ezekiel Machogu and Shadrack Mose, who was sworn in by Ruto as Solicitor General this week, were also among the attendees.



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