Why Uhuru's axe had to land on Duale

Outgoing National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale (third left) with members after yesterday’s Jubilee PG Meeting at KICC, Nairobi. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto declined to speak during a Jubilee MPs’ meeting chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, an ally of the DP, was ousted during the 20-minute meeting at KICC, Nairobi. 

Ruto twice declined invitations by Uhuru and Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju to address the National Assembly Jubilee Coalition Parliamentary Group meeting.

Sources said the DP was first invited by Tuju, but he waved the latter away, signaling that he had nothing to say. And when Uhuru finished his address, the party leader asked if his deputy had a comment. Again, the DP declined.

Moments before, MPs voted by acclamation on their confidence in Duale’s leadership, after which the President announced that Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya would take over.

“The room was tense. He was not in the mood of addressing the meeting. Tuju invited him first to address the MPs but he declined, saying he had nothing to say. Then when the President was through with his speech, he asked Ruto to say something, but he declined,” said an MP.

The account was corroborated by two other legislators who attended the morning meeting. Hours later, Ruto tweeted, describing the ousted Majority Leader as a great leader who worked with passion to deliver Jubilee’s agenda. This is the first time the DP has publicly commented on the ouster of an ally.

The purge on his allies started with the toppling of Senate leaders Kithure Kindiki (Deputy Speaker), Kipchumba Murkomen (Majority Leader) and Majority Whip Susan Kihika, then came the ejection of National Assembly Majority Whip Ben Washiali and his deputy Cecily Mbarire and the removal from parliamentary committees of 21 MPs. All these happened without the DP uttering a word.

Ruto tweet

“My brother Aden Duale, you are a great leader. For the last eight years, you discharged your responsibilities as our party’s first Majority Leader with style, precision, passion and loyalty,” Ruto tweeted yesterday about the Garissa Township MP, who became Majority Leader in 2013.

“My friend, when parliamentary history is written, you will have a chapter. Mbele iko sawa na Mungu (the future is bright with God),” Ruto added.

Yesterday, a high ranking party official revealed that Duale could not survive due to his perceived divided loyalty and considering the fact that the holder of the position automatically sits in the party’s National Executive Council, which Uhuru’s camp is fighting to control.

The official said there was a general feeling that he could not be trusted to sit in NEC meetings where Uhuru’s 2022 plans with other political parties will be considered.

“Although he appears to have switched loyalty of late, we could not trust him yet. It was too late for him to shift allegiance,” said the official.

It also emerged that Uhuru will extend his purge on Ruto allies in Cabinet and at the party headquarters.

Uhuru is expected to convene the first NEC after dominating it with his allies in the recent radical changes. At the NEC meeting, sources say, Jubilee Deputy Secretary-General Caleb Kositany and Treasurer Albert Mutai – both allies of Ruto – will be fired.

“This week, we will be cleaning NEC. We are not finished with the purge on rebels. Next is Kositany. We cannot have leaders who are undisciplined. How can you disobey your boss?” posed the official.

He added: “We cannot tolerate indiscipline by members who insubordinate the leadership. There is no room for such. You cannot counter every letter by the SG,” he added.

He cited the decision by Kositany to write a counter letter to the Registrar of Political Parties disputing a list of newly appointed National Management Committee (NMC) members that had been forwarded by Tuju. Ruto and more than 130 MPs, including Duale, wrote complaint letters, but their protests were ignored.

Post-poll pact

“The Party has entered a post-poll pact with Kanu, signed a cooperation agreement with Wiper and Chama Cha Mashinani and therefore we have partners to work with,” the official said, suggesting Uhuru’s camp has the numbers.

But on the DP’s fate, he said: “We are not going to touch him because of the partnership between the defunct The National Alliance (TNA) and United Republican Party (URP) unless otherwise advised.”

At KICC yesterday, Uhuru opted to physically attend the meeting after some Ruto allies vowed to snub it. Initial plans had indicated that the President would address the meeting virtually from State House, only for MPs to receive a late night text message from National Assembly Majority Whip Emmanuel Wangwe confirming he would physically attend.

The President, while exiting KICC, told journalists: “We will come to say what we are planning as we go ahead.”

He declined to disclose details of the 20-minutes meeting with MPs, insisting he was more focused on people staying safe, in peace and with adequate security.

Insiders said the President walked into the meeting and found all guests seated. Journalists who were in the hall were then ordered to leave.

Nothing to say

Meru Woman Rep Kawira Mwangaza prayed. It was then that Tuju took over the programme and asked the DP to speak. When the DP said he had “nothing to say” Tuju asked the President to communicate his agenda to the meeting.

Uhuru started by thanking the group for turning up and declared that his agenda was to announce the new Jubilee parliamentary leadership that would help drive his agenda. He told them he had received a petition signed by MPs seeking the ouster of Duale. At that time, there were murmurs.

He then asked whether the MPs wanted Duale to continue, and the group gave mixed responses of ‘yes’ and ‘no’. The President then declared he was happy the majority had agreed with the petition, then went on to read Kimunya’s name as the new Majority Leader and Eldas MP Adan Keynan as the Secretary of the Jubilee Coalition Joint PG.

Laikipia Woman Rep Catherine Waruguru seconded Duale’s removal while Murang’a Woman Rep Sabina Chege seconded Kimunya’s appointment. Uhuru then announced that Wangwe would communicate the other parliamentary leadership changes in the course of the week.

He asked if anyone had something to say, turning to the DP and calling him out. “William.” When the DP declined, the President said the meeting was over. They walked out and had a chit chat at a cafeteria within KICC. “They had a chat and he jokingly said he was happy to wear a shirt made by Rivatex while those with him had not bought any to promote the company,” said an MP who overheard the conversation.

[Moses Nyamori, Roselyne Obala and Cyrus Ombati]

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