Unease in the Jubilee administration has intensified lobbying, with South Nyanza, Western and Eastern Kenya getting prominence in the infighting between TNA and URP.
Last weekend, 42 MPs from Western met in Vihiga to draw a roadmap on how to take advantage of the wrangles in Jubilee following discontent in Rift Valley – where URP draws its support.
Publicly, either side of the governing Jubilee coalition deny there is anything unusual in the relationship between the President and his deputy.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, an ally of President Uhuru Kenyatta, would not deny or confirm there is tension in Government between Jubilee coalition partners that may have forced the president to retreat for two weeks to Sagana State Lodge, where he is reportedly rethinking the government outlook.
Director of Communication in the Deputy President’s office Emmanuel Tallam too, insists the Jubilee government is stable and working.
“We only have one Jubilee administration whose chief executive is the president, who is the appointing authority,” Mr Tallam said.
Mr Kuria says the president’s absence at State House and Harambee House – his official work stations – has no bearing on the functioning of his government.
“The president loves Sagana because of its serenity. That does not mean there is a conflict in the Jubilee coalition,” he says.
But other signs paint a different picture. Rift Valley MPs who discussed the DP’s fate in Jubilee at a URP Parliamentary Group meeting in Weston Hotel, Nairobi, last week told The Standard on Saturday the issue was discussed at length, although the DP William Ruto who was present, tried to downplay it.
Chesumei MP Elijah Lagat, who attended the meeting, admits the relationship between the president and the deputy has chilled substantially and the recent reshuffle in government and parastatal appointments exposed the cracks in the presidency.
“We (URP) have a deal with TNA to share government on a 50-50 basis. However, this has been ignored. Instead, we are seeing a trend where the DP’s input is not visible,” he claims.
Ruto was instrumental in Kenyatta’s ascendancy to power, having marshalled more than two million votes for Jubilee. The DP, though, at times out-speaks his boss by making his opinion known on some national issue.
The latest episode in the DP’s policy statement that did not elicit support from the President was declaration to relocate the more than 500,000 Somali refugees in Dadaab camp back to their country as Kenya grapples with insecurity arising from Al Shabaab attacks.
President Kenyatta has not publicly supported the DP’s position, instead he agreed last week with UN High Commissioner of Refugees Antonio Guress that the repatriation would follow international law.
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The jostling for power in Jubilee has introduced another dimension to the presidency. The President has been reaching out to Nyanza and Western to neutralise imminent exodus by Rift Valley MPs from Jubilee.
Notably, Kenyatta got a warm reception in his recent tour of Kisumu, an Opposition stronghold, when he opened a devolution conference in what his allies say was to underline his intention to go beyond Central and Rift Valley for support.
Former Cabinet minister Soita Shitanda, confirms that the tussle for Western and Nyanza by the president and his deputy may soon turn into a vicious political war with far-reaching consequences.
He says Western represents a viable option should DP’s support in Rift Valley, which is showing signs of dwindling, decline substantially.
“Forget the series of meetings the MPs are holding. They are taking stock of their collective failures to articulate the interests of the region. If you pick them one after the other, none of them is interested in the presidency. They are pushing personal agenda in the name of unity. Western has never been divided. The reality is none of the people who have expressed interest in the presidency has presented serious credentials to be believed,” posits Mr Shitanda.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, outgoing leader of New Ford Kenya Eugene Wamalwa, CORD co-principal Moses Wetang’ula and former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo, have all nursed presidential ambitions but Shitanda says they lack the clout and wherewithal to mount a serious challenge.