Towards the end of last year, if someone told you that there would be a political coalition around Deputy President William Ruto and his United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party, you would forgive such a person for failing to read the country’s politics well.
Severally, the DP had made it clear that in UDA, he is building a national political party with members drawn from all over Kenya and that he would not have time for what he termed tribal outfits masquerading as political parties.
So firm has been his stance that he did not mind giving a cold shoulder to his friends like Moses Kuria who has insisted on not dissolving his outfit to join UDA party.
So what changed on Sunday at the Bomas of Kenya? Ruto’s presence and remarks during the Amani National Congress (ANC) National Delegates Conference (NDC) was a complete departure from the position long held.
He ultimately declared that UDA will work together with ANC, Ford Kenya of Moses Wetangula and William Kabogo’s Jibebe parties.
Other than dismissing such small political parties as village and tribal gatherings, William Ruto is on record discouraging one key aspect of coalitions, zoning of areas in favor of the dominant party in a particular region.
Ruto said he would never allow a situation where his UDA does not field candidates for elective seats in certain areas because they are perceived to be strongholds of given parties.
“We are telling those who want to come and work with us that as UDA we will not stop our members from anywhere from presenting themselves for elections because that area has been zoned off for another party. If you do not have a problem with our party, do not ask us not to field candidates anywhere,” he said during an interview at his Karen residence last year.
Things however seemed to have changed. On Monday, just a day after the ANC NDC at Bomas, Ruto hosted a UDA Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting in Nairobi and declared that; “we shall work with other parties as seek to formulate a winning formula for the forthcoming general elections”.
The change of heart and tact could be a realization that the next contest shall be won by teams coming together to form one strong team.
The trend was set during the Grand Coalition government between President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Then Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto rode into power through a joint ticket bringing together URP and TNA. Now the stage is all set for the next government to be a coalition based one.
Ruto has lately been wooing Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka to join hands with him to form the next government. For sure Kalonzo can only work with Ruto on a coalition, but not abandon his party to join UDA.
Attention now shifts to Senate where Speaker Ken Lusaka who has called for a special sitting for debate on the Political Parties Bill.
Key among the articles in the bill touches on the formation of coalitions ahead of the next elections. UDA allies in the National Assembly attempts to frustrate the bill failed.
It is not clear how Ruto’s allies in the Senate will approach the debate now that they seem to have a soft spot and a change of tune on building coalitions ahead of the August elections.