Uhuru changes tune on purge against DP Ruto allies

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy William Ruto in a light moment during the official launch of the Building Bridges to a United Kenya Taskforce Report at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi on October 26, 2020. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta has decided to go slow on the purge against Deputy William Ruto’s allies in the Jubilee Party.

This emerged after the president’s wing reportedly decided to back down on the onslaught against politicians propagating the ideals of United Democratic Alliance (UDA), an affiliate of the ruling party, which has been the bone of contention since the purge on the parliamentary leadership that started last year.

Yesterday, Jubilee Party National Management Committee (NMC) ruled out any talks with the UDA associated with Ruto over its decision to end the pre-election pact.

Jubilee Vice Chairperson David Murathe said the decision to end the pre-election pact with Party of Development and Reforms (PDR), which rebranded to UDA, was final.

“In our heads, UDA is no longer a partner in Jubilee. So there is no need for further conversation on this matter,” said Mr Murathe.

He added that it was upon the MPs to stop insulting the party leader, which he said amounts to gross misconduct and could occasion expulsion. “It is now up to them to decide if they want to continue with UDA that may occasion by-elections which we think is not necessary now that we only have one year to the next General Election,” said Murathe, adding that Ruto and his allies were free to continue championing the ideals of the new outfit. He maintained that the MPs will, however, continue making their monthly subscriptions to the ruling party or risk expulsion.

“Some people felt they should be allowed to grow their party and we ours. We don’t expect them to be involved in revamping our party when we begin revamping our grassroots structures. We will let them, but they will have to continue making subscriptions to the party,” said the vocal close ally of the president.

On Monday, a meeting by top Jubilee officials convened to discuss the matter failed to reach an agreement. It emerged that some officials want the push to cut links with the party dropped, terming it an unnecessary fight after the party wrote to the office of the Registrar of Political Parties seeking to sever ties.

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Those opposed to the push have cited possible complications since some of the leaders elected on PDR, which rebranded to UDA, are holding leadership positions in Parliament and back the president.Senate Deputy Majority Leader Fatuma Dullo was elected on the party.

Others elected on PDR ticket are MPs Fatuma Gedi (Wajir), Ahmed Bashane (Tarbaj), Mark Lomunokol (Kacheliba) and Sophia Abdi (Ijara).

UDA had written to the Registrar of Political Parties Ann Nderitu requesting for mediation with Jubilee over the push to end the coalition pact.

“The relevant organs of the coalition parties shall undergo the appropriate arbitration process in a bid to resolve the dispute and update you of the outcome thereof,” UDA Secretary-General Veronica Maina said in a letter to Nderitu. Ms Maina said UDA disagreed with Jubilee’s move to end the coalition and suggests that the two parties go to arbitration to iron out their differences.

The latest row between Uhuru and Ruto was triggered by Secretary General Raphael Tuju’s letter to Ms Nderitu seeking dissolution of the pre-election agreement with PDR.

“After considering the prevailing political and legal hurdles facing the proposed coalition, (it) found it improper and untenable to complete the formulation of the coalition,” read the letter from Tuju. “This is to request that you take note of this letter and to put on record our revocation of the provisional coalition agreement lodged in your offices on May 6, 2018 that was never completed,” he added. Jubilee Deputy Secretary General Joshua Kutuny had earlier indicated they were determined to end the political marriage. 

“They cannot be trusted. They have gone ahead to work on their agenda for 2022,” said Mr Kutuny.

He added: “Why are they desperate again and want to engage with our party? We gave them an exit. Why put hurdles again?” he posed.

Ruto affirmed during a TV interview that he would opt to contest on UDA ticket as plan B if Jubilee decides to deny him an opportunity. He recounted how he invested his time, resources and energy to build Jubilee ahead of the 2017 elections.

He regretted that he was no longer welcome at the Jubilee headquarters and those perceived to be close to him were being persecuted and de-whipped from House leadership positions, citing former Majority Leader Adan Duale and Senators Kipchumba Murkomen, Susan Kihika and Irungu Kangata as well as former Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki. The DP said he was the only ‘man’ left standing in JP.  

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