BY JUMA KWAYERA and VITALIS KIMUTAI
Independence party Kanu today holds a meeting whose political significance is, perhaps, only rivalled by its ouster from power in 2002.
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta will cease to be Kanuâs chairman when its top decision-making organ meets at Kasarani to decide on the partyâs future. He is seeking to abandon what he terms a "sinking ship" and move to a new party he can use for his presidential bid. The challenge is how to do so gracefully after a decade presiding over a weakened party without taking the blame for its failures and problems.
Uhuru has held the position since 2002 when he took over from former President Daniel arap Moi. His contentious anointment as Kanuâs flag-bearer sparked an implosion that led to a walkout of many of the partyâs leaders and then defeat in the polls, ending the partyâs four-decades in power.
Once the dominant party in the country, Kanu is now at risk of failing to meet the April 30 registration deadline for the next General Election. It may also be unable to field a presidential candidate having all but run out of time.
The agenda for todayâs special National Delegates Convention is to ratify proposed changes to the partyâs constitution and set dates for grassroots election. Some of the focus, however, will be on whether Uhuru or his allies attend. The Gatundu South MPâs departure from the partyâs membership roll is expected soon, with talk he will announce his new party next week. However, he has also expressed hopes Kanu will survive its current crisis, which he blames on Secretary General Nick Salat.
The special NDC follows incessant wrangling that pit Uhuru against Salat and Vice-Chairman Gideon Moi. Mr Salat and Mr Moi have been distressed at Uhuruâs apparent neglect of the party, leading to battles in and out of court over its property, membership recruitment and future plans. The Deputy PM, on the other hand, argues it was Salat who ensured the party ground to a halt with his pursuit of control.
Friday, during a briefing after a National Executive Council meeting attended by the Vice-Chairman, Salat said Uhuru is free to attend todayâs meeting.
"His position on the high table will be reserved," Salat said, with the added warning that should the Deputy PM announce plans to join another party, he should surrender Kanuâs old registration certificate by Monday.
"This is because itâs among the documents required while seeking full registration by the Registrar of Political Parties," Salat said. "In the event Uhuru does not surrender it, we shall consider it lost and apply for a police abstract to enable us get a new one in accordance with the new laws."