A quiet struggle by some MPs to seize leadership of Jubilee Party has boiled over amid claims the unity pact between the President and the Opposition leader is to blame.
Party Secretary General Raphael Tuju yesterday publicly acknowledged the coup plot even as he claimed that the MPs were nervous because of the co-operation between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga.
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Deputy President William Ruto’s allies have been vocal opponents of Uhuru and Raila’s ‘handshake’, which they have blamed for stoking divisions in the ruling party.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria is reported to be among those campaigning for fresh elections to install MPs in party leadership positions, saying Jubilee is the “only major political party with no space for politicians”.
“Government in any democracy is the product of a political process. Political parties are the fathers and mothers of governments. Key national agenda such as Big Four ought to be buttressed by a strong political will. Big Four is a very potent warhead with potential to transform Kenya forever,” Mr Kuria recently posted on his Facebook page.
The Big Four refers to Uhuru’s legacy projects in manufacturing, housing, food security and healthcare.
“But even the most lethal warhead requires a strong missile to deliver it. In the case of Big Four, a strong Jubilee Party is that missile. Yet we are the only major political party with no space for politicians,” Kuria added.
Kuria cited other political parties that have elected MPs to party posts such as Suba South MP John Mbadi (Orange Democratic Movement chairman) and Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana (Wiper chairman).
“Time has come for Jubilee Party to open up space for political participation. Party elections are long overdue,” he said.
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Contacted for clarification yesterday, Kuria said his post was self-explanatory.
The Standard could not independently verify a proposed line-up that has Kuria as secretary general, Soy MP Caleb Kositany as treasurer and a senator for vice chairperson to replace incumbent David Murathe, who has adopted a hard-line stance on the party’s leaders in Parliament who he blames for contradicting the President’s positions.
The election of party officials is expected to be a key agenda at a retreat the ruling coalition is planning.
While Mr Tuju said he would not respond to Kuria’s posts, he dared MPs agitating for the removal of interim officials to either wait for a proper process or be bold enough to face Uhuru instead of engaging in political sideshows.
“The party constitution is clear. It says the party leader shall nominate interim officials of the party to serve the interests of the party and they shall serve for a period not exceeding three years. The three years have not expired,” he said.
Uhuru picked Tuju as party secretary general in March last year, replacing Veronica Maina who was serving in an acting capacity.
“The people who are talking should be bold enough to face the party leader over the matter. Whoever is talking about change of leadership of the party should address it to the right person,” he said.
“Elections require proper preparations. We have to establish county offices across the country and have a membership registration drive. It is a process and not an event. We have to be compliant, and to that extent we are not conflicted with the members calling for elections.”
He acknowledged that the talks about electing party officials had gained currency because the rapprochement between Uhuru and Raila had upset some MPs.
“They could be jittery but the official party decision is that it supports the handshake.”
However, The Standard traced the genesis of the standoff within the party to utterances by Mr Murathe during a church service at AIC Mudoro in Gatundu South on February 12, when he threatened unspecified action against the ‘tangatanga’ group.
“Mimi ndiyo mnaskia naambiwa ni mtu mbaya. (You have heard that I have been labelled the troublemaker). I want to tell Kuria and his group of ‘tangatanga’ they are spoiling for the DP. When did the President ever say he has changed his stand in supporting the DP for 2022? Why are people moving around creating despondency? I speak to the President as the vice chair of the party, na hawa watu tutawanyorosha (we will deal with these people). I am saying the truth. I said it. The legacy of the President is discipline, law and order, firmness and the fight against corruption,” said Murathe.
“The President has told me he will not relent. You have seen it. His legacy is more important even in the handshake, which is meant to unite Kenyans, and that’s why we are supporting the Building Bridges initiative.”
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter, his Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge and Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny were present at the church event.
Murathe then recounted how Jubilee was crafted.
“We have come a long way with Kuria. It is true we sat - me, the PS and the late George Thuo, Keter, Kutuny and the DP in Njoroge’s house and this is where the journey began.”
He then advised the DP’s allies that the Constitution required one to garner 50 per cent plus one of the total votes cast to win the presidency. He explained the DP needed broader support to win and they were doing his bid a disservice by antagonising others.
Yesterday, National Assembly Leader of Majority Aden Duale dismissed the allegation of a coup plot as “fake news” while Murathe declined to comment. [Additional reporting by Moses Nyamori]