Elections 2017

Uhuru's angry rebuke to party rebels sends ripples in Jubilee

From left: Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, Kimilili MP Didimas Barasa and Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, during the Burial ceremony of Ngunjiri's brother Bernard Ndung’u at Kabatini area in Bahati Constituency on June 17,2019. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta's furious dress down of rebels in Jubilee Party on Sunday drew silence and cautious responses from his perceived targets.

Uhuru tore into party rebels on Sunday during an address to the Akorino National Convention at Kasarani Sport Complex, in the presence of his deputy, William Ruto, accusing them of taking him for granted.

Yesterday, most of the MPs allied to Ruto declined to react to Uhuru's reprimand, highlighting the political sensitivity of the issue.

Others called on the President and his deputy to resolve the growing discord in the ruling party.

Some, like Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, were more forthright, accusing the President of appearing angry while speaking in his political strongholds but happier in opposition areas.

Chuka Igamba Ng’ombe MP, Patrick Munene – a first term MP - took on the President, saying his outburst was demonstration of failed leadership.

“He is the party leader and has mechanisms to deal with rebels. He (Uhuru) should be answering questions for leaving us to go work with opposition,” said Munene.

Unwarranted tirade

Tharaka MP George Murugara, though moderate in his language, said the tirade was unwarranted but vowed to continue drumming support for Ruto.

"We chose to support the DP and we should not be vilified for it. Only individual MPs can change this," said Murugara, also a first term MP.

But a number of erstwhile vocal MPs were non-committal on the president’s angry remarks.

Mathira’s Rigathi Gachagua said he wished to make no comment while others such as Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki, Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Rahab Mukami (Nyeri Woman rep), Kimani Ichungwa (Kikuyu) and Rahab Waruguru (Laikipia) did not answer calls or reply to text messages on the president's comments. 

But in Nakuru, at least 10 Jubilee MPs allied to Ruto used the burial of Bernard Ndung'u,  brother to Bahati MP, Kimani Ngunjiri, to answer the president.

Here, Mr Ngunjiri said no Jubilee leader had insulted the president but that they were telling him the truth about the state of the nation.

“He should not be angry. He should not address us through the press. Instead he should call us and have dialogue on our issues,” said Ngunjiri.

He said the main concern was the uncertainty created by the President by his silence about the future of Jubilee Party and his newfound friendship with Opposition leader Raila Odinga which has created room for speculation.

“Call us and tell us what has changed with Raila and why we should work with him. We don’t want to be part of a pact that is dividing the country,” he said.

It was at the burial where MP Oscar Sudi, accused the President of inconsistency.

“It is shocking that when you go to opposition zones you are happy but once you leave the zones you come breathing fire at us. We don’t want the anger you have on us. Sit with your Deputy and give us answers to our concerns,” said Sudi.

Sudi said that the unending politicking was due to harsh economic times that have seen most businesses either record losses or close down. He blamed the challenges facing Kenyans on new policies adopted after the handshake between Uhuru and Raila.

“The country seems to have taken the wrong direction politically and economically after the handshake,” said Sudi.

Naivasha MP Jayne Kihara said the President’s outburst was confusing and challenged him to clarify whether hosting his deputy was offensive.

“If hosting the DP is the mistake, he needs to tell us,” said Kihara.

Kajiado West MP George Sunkuyia claimed the President was being misled by a clique of opposition leaders who have drawn closer to him after the handshake.

“Uhuru can give Raila all he wants but not our Party. We are ready to support Uhuru on anything that means well for the country but if it has anything to do with Raila, that is where we shall part,” Sunkuyia said.

Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika said the party would not continue to accommodate those peddling divisive politics.

“We won’t not allow those from the opposition to interfere with our agenda,” said Kihika.

Kimilili MP Didimus Barasa pointed out that the President had brought opposition leaders so close that they were now influencing him more than those in the ruling party.

“There is a section of opposition leaders who wine and dine in the Jubilee administration and are now spearheading the simmering confusion,” said Barasa.

Kitui South MP Rachel Nyamae said: “It appears that there are people who have angered him. I think it is those in the opposition who wanted him to declare who he wants to succeed him."

Ruiru MP Simon King'ara Ruiru said that he would need more time to digest the President’s remarks.

Parliamentary meeting

Separately, Maragua MP Mary Waithera advised the President to call a Jubilee Parliamentary meeting to address the issue.

Lari MP Jonah Mburu, another key Ruto ally, said leaders from Mt Kenya region would not defy the president.

However, rivals in the Kieleweke camp opposed to Ruto's quest to succeed Uhuru were elated saying it was time the president addressed the mischief.

“The president was always aware of the machinations in the 2017 Jubilee primaries though he did not wish to rattle the campaigns. He knows the beneficiaries of those machinations are the ones shouting all over him,” said Maoka Maore.

Nyeri town’s Ngunjiri Wambugu said the President was forced tell off the rebels.

“They refused to listen and now the President has told them off, publicly,” said Wambugu.

Wambugu said those opposed to Uhuru were behaving like they knew Ruto more than President does.

“It must be extremely infuriating and disappointing to him,” he said.

Gatanga MP Joseph Nduati accused Jubilee party rebels of frustrating the President.

“The president made it clear these are the people frustrating the national development," he said.

Kiambu Woman rep, Gathoni wa Muchomba, urged the president to not just warn the rebels but take further action against them.

North Imenti MP Rahim Dawood supported the president saying it was clear that MPs following the Ruto in every function had abdicated their responsibility of representing their constituencies.

Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata said the President's anger was understandable.

“He wants the Kikuyus to support referendum to create an all-inclusive government which will guarantee peace for them going forward," he said.

Stamping authority

Murang'a Woman rep, Sabina Chege believes that Uhuru was simply stamping his authority. Ms Chege was recently booed by a section of the crowd chanting pro-Ruto slogans during a rally in the county.

National Assembly Minority leader, John Mbadi said Uhuru was was expressing his frustration with his troops who are busy leading a revolt.

“He was right to get annoyed. World over running mates don’t even campaign to succeed their bosses,” said Mbadi.

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior said the President is facing challenges as a party leader of Jubilee.

“His members appear to be defying him on the 2022 succession. It is only a matter of time before the rebellion is full blown,” said Mutula.

Makueni MP Dan Maanzo claimed that Ruton allies were undermining the President and should be tamed.

“The President has insisted on developing the country but Ruto and his allies are already campaigning. They have disregarded Uhuru’s advice,” Maanzo said.

[Reports by Kennedy Gachuhi, Kennedy Gachuhi, Wainaina Ndung’u, Boniface Gikandi, Kamau Maichuhie, Lydia Nyawira, Dickson Mwiti, Rawlings Otieno and Protus Onyango]

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