Plot to remove leaders widens rift in Jubilee Party

Deputy President William with the organisers of the Wanyama Royal Charity Cup at his Karen office. Mcdonald Mariga and his brother Victor had paid him a visit. [DPPS]
The internal strife in Jubilee looked set to claim its first casualties on the back of protests by some MPs against the Majority Leaders in Parliament.

A meeting of Rift Valley MPs last night was set to decide the fate of Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen as the chairman of their regional caucus.

Some MPs accused the Elgeyo Marakwet Senator of being divisive. This week, Murkomen sensationally claimed unnamed State House operatives were scheming for the downfall of Deputy President William Ruto.

He has also criticised the lifestyle audit ordered by President Kenyatta, saying it lacks legal backing and is part of the scheme to malign Ruto.

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This came as National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale tabled a list of firms involved in sugar trade and warned against selective fight against corruption, raising eyebrows over his role in the sugar wars.

MPs uncomfortable with Murkomen and Duale argue as Majority Leaders, they are not supposed to seen to be working against the government.

Yesterday, it was reported that Murkomen would be replaced as caucus chairman by Soy MP Caleb Kositany, another close ally of Ruto. Kositany was a long-term aide of Ruto when was Eldoret North MP.

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Nandi Hills’ MP Alfred Keter said evaluation of Murkomen’s leadership of the caucus would feature.

“We are keen to have fruitful deliberations but we will also question the leadership of our caucus chair. He has failed to offer leadership,” said Keter. 

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Joshua Kuttuny (Cherangany) said they were keen to have leadership that would steer Kalenjin nation to prosperity.

“As elected leaders, we must steer our community to political and socio-economic prosperity. Whereas this will be the main agenda, we will also re-look at our caucus leadership based on complaints by legislators and other leaders,” said Kutuny.

On Tuesday, Keter, Kuttuny and Moiben’s Silas Tiren accused Murkomen of opposing President Kenyatta’s directive for a lifestyle audit and making remarks that will drive a wedge between the DP and the Head of State.

“The DP is a brand in himself. He does not need some reckless and egoistic politicians calling themselves his allies, to make him,” the three leaders said at press briefing in Parliament.

And yesterday, Murkomen responded: “I made my statement on Sunday in good faith and still stand by it. As a leader in Jubilee and the Senate Majority Leader, I am focused on unity of Jubilee and the delivery of its manifesto. I can’t dissociate myself from the cracks in our party. The President and his deputy should rein in rogue elements in the party.”

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Attention seekers

He added: “I can’t answer Kuttuny and company, they are attention seekers. They should respect me as the chairman of the Rift Valley legislators. Our focus should be development, not running away from issues.”

Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi said the scope of the lifestyle audit should be extended to the President’s family, including the late Jomo kenyatta.

Tiaty MP William Kamket told Murkomen and Duale to resign if they have lost confidence in the President.

“They have realised the lifestyle audit is real. That is why they want us to revive the dead so they can do a lifestyle audit on them,” said Kamket.

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Kamket said it was wrong for Government leaders to be shouting at each other. “I challenge the two leaders to resign if they have lost confidence in the President. We cannot have a government where the right hand does not know what the left is doing.”

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu also asked the two “to step down or be forced to do so.”

Wambugu said their utterance showed they don’t support President Kenyatta’s fight against graft.

“Senator Murkomen publicly said he does not support the lifestyle audit yet he should be pushing the Government’s agenda in the Senate,” Wambugu said.

“As a Majority Leader, you should be in sync with the Government and the President, and if you cannot defend Government positions, then you should step aside,” Wambugu avered.

He criticised Duale’s claims that the war on contraband imports targeted particular people. 

“I read pure mischief in these allegations. It is an attempt to scare the President into going slow on corruption,” Wambugu said.

Mukurweini MP Anthony Kiai warned that while all Jubilee MPs were in agreement in the fight against corruption, personal interests were clouding their judgements.

“Leaders such as Duale, Murkormen and Wambugu think you have to be the loudest to be seen but that is not the case. We should support the government to fight corruption,” Kiai said.

But some MPs defended the two, arguing they should be allowed to speak their mind.

Pokot South MP David Pkosing said: “Murkomen is a politician and he should not be vilified for speaking his mind.”

“If there was any reason to kick out the majority leaders, the President would have convened a PG meeting and asked us to support a vote of no confidence motion,” said Laikipia County MP Cate Waruguru.

North Imenti MP Rahim Dawood accused Wambugu of being a lone ranger and making a lot of noise.

Meanwhile, some Jubilee legislators allied to Ruto have dismissed claims of a new party in the wake of suspicions within the ruling coalition.

Kositany and Julius Melly (Tinderet) dismissed as untrue reports of plans of a political outfit and said the working relationship within Jubilee was cordial.

“I am unaware of any formation of a political party. I have only seen the claims in the media. I am Jubilee’s deputy secretary general and we have a good working relationship in the coalition,” Kositany said.

Nandi Senator Kiprotich Cherargei had been quoted as saying the group was looking for a new political vehicle ahead of 2022 elections.

[Reporting by Daniel Psirmoi, Titus Too, Julius Chepkwony and Lydiah Nyawira]

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