Ruto moves to restore order in troubled UDA


President William Ruto convened a crisis meeting for the top UDA organ at State House Nairobi. [Courtesy]

President William Ruto has urged the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) top organs to respect each other and leaders to commit to serving Kenyans.  

During the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting at State House, Nairobi, on Saturday, the Head of State read the riot act to party officials asking them to solve their differences internally. 

The meeting was concerned that UDA elected leaders had started tearing each other apart in public, a move that depicted the president in a bad light, a source who attended told The Standard. 

“One of the NEC members reminded the leaders that the President is the vision bearer of the party warning that pronouncement by some leaders could ruin the cohesion of the party and whoever has an issue with the President should always access him to solve his or her issue,” a source said. 

Factions have emerged in UDA with the one allied to the president disparaging Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua describing him as a tribalist for his Mt Kenya unity clarion call and his push for a one-man one-vote one-shilling revenue sharing formula.

Gachagua’s team has vowed to politically deal with any leader from Mt Kenya region who is not supporting him claiming that some of the President's allies were interfering with the region's politics and undermining the DP. 

"We were told to embrace internal solutions to solve our conflicts as opposed to hitting each other in public forums,” said Kiruga Thuku, the chairperson of the UDA caucus that brings together all the UDA Members of County Assemblies. 

The NEC also moved to an end the tiff between the UDA Secretary General Cleophas Malala, National Elections Board (NEB) and the Electoral and Nomination Dispute Resolution Committee (ENDRC) over the postponement of the grassroot elections in five counties. The party officials who attended the meeting told The Standard that Malala was put to task over his contradicting statement over the elections. 

"He was told to stick to his mandate and to always consult other organs before making public pronouncements. The party leader maintained that discipline and respect are key and urged every organ to follow the party structure to avoid overstepping their mandate," a source said. 

Prior to the constituency level elections Malala had announced that the exercise had been canceled  but NEB Chairperson Antony Mwaura and ENDRC Vice Chairperson Adrian Kamotho dismissed his statement saying the Political Parties and Disputes Tribunal ruling bars him from interfering with party elections. 

"Resultantly, any notice purporting to address election matters is unlawful, without basis and is therefore null and void. The UDA party will carry on with all the constituency level elections scheduled to take place tomorrow the May 31, 2024, in compliance with the earlier notice.”

'Malala had issued a statement postponing constituency level elections in West Pokot county where he cited the ENDRC ruling postponing the exercise," read a notice by Mwaura.  

Kamotho said: “Our attention is drawn to a public notice issued by the acting Secretary General of the UDA party purporting to reference an Order of the Electoral and Nomination Disputes Resolution Committee (ENDRC). The referenced order is fake and the same did not emanate from the ENDRC.” 

During the meeting, the President who is also the party leader directed all the party organs to work harmoniously without washing their dirty linen in public.

Another issue that was agreed upon by the NEC was the contentious issue of composition of the National Delegates Conference where it adopted the percentage model against the absolute model which was being pushed by a section of the NEC officials. 

This process will see counties that garnered over 50 per cent produce 20 delegates each to the NDC, with others below that mark sharing other slots on a pro-rata basis. 

Those opposed to the model argued that it would disadvantage counties with huge populations while those with smaller populations would produce many delegates who would then make far reaching decisions during the conference. 

“A county like in Lamu may have 72 per cent of the people voting for UDA and because it has fewer registered voters, it would translate to only 10000 while another county lets say Muranga may have 40 per cent that would translate to 50000 voters voting for us, the absolute figure would have cured the problem,” a member of the NEC told The Standard on phone. 

While the NEC adopted the electronic voting system, it gave nod to the NEB to continue with the county-level elections in Homabay and Busia counties, whose constituency polls were not challenged. 

Ruto however, directed that the elections in Narok and West Pokot, which have been contested in court be suspended pending the outcome of the disputes.  

"Where the courts have issued orders stopping the election, we have to postpone. We must respect court orders," said the President as he approved phase two of elections in 13 counties. 

Malala told The Standard that the NEC did not turn a blind eye on the consensus approach to determine the winner if going to the ballot will not work. 

“Where going to the ballot will not work, and with the agreement of the candidates, we shall try consensus as it is one of the provisions in our party constitution,” he said. 

Gachagua while addressing the NEC members urged the party officials to concentrate on building a strong formidable outfit and to conduct free and fair polls that will reflect the tenets of democracy. 

“It is through a strong party that we shall be able to concentrate on service delivery and this will also hold our members together,” he said.