Uhuru kicks out Ruto allies as ties hit rock bottom

President Uhuru Kenyatta with his deputy William Ruto during the inauguration of the modernised Rivatex factory in Uasin Gishu County last year. [File, Standard]

The relationship between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto sunk to a new low yesterday after the DP snubbed a Jubilee meeting called by his boss, and where his allies were kicked out from their leadership positions.

Vocal Majority Leader in the Senate, Kipchumba Murkomen and Whip, Susan Kihika were sacrificed in a wider political war linked to the 2022 succession politics.

Staged at State House, the purge was a culmination of a year-long cold-war between the two men at the helm of the ruling party.

Murkomen was replaced by Kanu’s Samuel Poghisio, while Kihika was replaced by Murang’a Senator Irungu Kangata.

At State House, a seat that had been reserved for the DP remained empty, a far cry from the good old times when the President and his number two referred to each other as brothers and wowed their supporters with their public show of camaraderie.

Yesterday, it was a different ball game. As the President presided over the PG, sources said The DP met with Jubilee Deputy Secretary-General Caleb Kositany among other guests. 

New allies

In an early-morning tweet, the DP suggested he was focused on the Covid-19 pandemic and other calamities in the country. Later, his allies claimed that he had in the morning distributed food to 500 families in Kariobangi through area MP.

“Good people, we are in the middle of corona pandemic, destructive floods and ravaging locust invasion. Many who have lost work, income and livelihood are desperate and hungry. Let’s us reach out with food and all kind of support individually where we are able and collectively as GoK,” wrote the DP.

Senator Poghisio’s entry into Parliament leadership was the latest indication that Uhuru is looking for new allies that would bolster his numbers in Parliament and cut down his deputy’s influence in both houses. DP’s allies have been chest-thumping that they have the numerical strength in both houses.

Others picked were Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo Adan (Deputy Majority Leader) and Fahriya Ali (Deputy Majority Whip). The communication signed by Spokesperson Kanze Dena-Mararo indicated that 20 senators were at the meeting, but did not elaborate

“His Excellency the President today at State House, Nairobi chaired a Jubilee Coalition Parliamentary Group meeting that brought together Senators from Jubilee Party and the Kenya African National Union (Kanu).

“The President who is also the Party Leader of the Jubilee Coalition said he looks forward to working closely with the new Senate Leadership in delivering services to Kenyans,” stated the communication.

Senator Kang’ata said he is ready to execute his duties in the Senate.

“I thank the President for showing trust in me. I promise to serve the party with loyalty and dedication. We will no longer have opposition within the Senate leadership,” he said.

While State House was announcing the changes, the DP’s side went hammer and tongs against President Kenyatta, accusing State House of playing parochial politics.

At a press conference at Parliament Buildings, Murkomen and Kihika rubbished their removal, terming the changes null and void.

They claimed the PG lacked quorum, as it had been attended by only 11 jubilee senators, and three from Kanu.

To remove the leadership, Murkomen said, the party needs 18 out of 35 senators.

“You have seen communication from State House purporting changes to the Jubilee Party leadership in the Senate. State House is not Jubilee Party headquarters. It is a place of dignity and not parochial politics. The communication should be treated with the contempt it deserves,” said Murkomen.

He warned State House against “forging” signatures of those that did not attend.

“We cannot lead the country through forgery. Please do not forge the signature of our colleagues,” he said.

Murkomen also advised the President to heal the wounds in the party before reaching out to new alliances.

“There is no way you can preach to the Gentiles, while the Jews are not converted. Start with Jerusalem first. If this situation continues where all resource and time are dedicated to fighting one person (Ruto), it is sad for the country. Please go back and retrace your steps,” Murkomen told the President.

Senator Kihika also said the changes were done unprocedurally. 

“This country is headed to the dogs. We were not invited and we were not aware of the meeting. We must stop running the party as personal property and as one-man show. I am saddened that we are having issues at State House of all places. They can remove us if they want, but they must follow the law,” said Senator Kihika.

Following the change of leadership, the State repossessed two vehicles attached to Murkomen as Leader of Majority. Yesterday evening, police officers from the Orderlies Department confirmed that two vehicles attached to Murkomen- A Mercedes Benz and a Prado were taken back from the Elgeyo Marakwet Senator.

The two have, meanwhile, written to Speaker, Ken Lusaka, asking him to rule whether their removal was within the law.

In their communication, they attached names of 22 senators they claimed were not present in the State House meeting.

“We, therefore, hold that the leadership of the Majority Party in the senate as it has been and until the requirement of the Constitution of Kenya, the Standing Orders and the Jubilee Party constitution and the law are adhered to. All communications on the removal of a leader…can only be written by Majority Leader and Majority Whip”.

Not welcome

The Senators said they did not receive any formal invitations for any meeting with an agenda to discuss the removal of the Senate Majority leader and whip.

“No vote was carried out as required by the Standing Order 19 to remove the Majority leader and whip. As members of the Majority, we wish to state categorically that our party does not have a valid coalition agreement with Kanu,” read part of the letter.

They said the purported coalition agreement was not sanctioned by the relevant organ that is the National Executive Committee as required under article 32.2 of the constitution of the party.

Kositany termed the events at State House illegality.

“What happened at State House is total illegality. It is a shame that you can call a meeting without a quorum and purport to make changes. If laws can be broken at State House, where are we heading as a country? Party changes are not affected at State House,” he said.