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Suspicion clouds launch of Jubilee Party in Rift Valley

By JACOB NG'ETICH and RAEL JELIMO | January 3rd 2016

ELDORET: Political suspicion has dogged Jubilee Party (JP) less than a month after President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto hosted leaders of affiliate parties at State House and rallied them to support the coalition.

President Kenyatta and DP Ruto have emphasized the importance of a single political vehicle to seek re-election in the 2017 General Election.

But, a section of Rift Valley leaders including Ruto allies have cast doubt on whether the Mt Kenya region would back the Deputy President for the presidency in 2022.

During public gatherings in the North and South Rift on Monday, the debate about JP exposed the simmering political suspicion.

In Chepkigen Kesses constituency the home of Uasin Gishu County Speaker Isaac Terer, leaders indicated they would seek other options if JP fails to take off.

Reacting to Wareng Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary John Bor's remarks on the need for Rift Valley residents to be cautious, Governors Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu), MPs James Bett (Kesses) and Elisha Busienei (Turbo) said there were still options for the community if they were not satisfied with JP.

"Chang ketik, matemenech ketech kot age, (We have many trees, it will not be difficult for us to build another house) let's see how they will treat Ruto," said Mr Mandago.

The Governor, however, was categorical that the new party would help fight tribalism but warned it will not be business as usual if Ruto would not be given an opportunity in 2022.

"Many people are asking us, what will happen if our partners do not vote for us in 2022, we assure you that the DP is full of options, who told you that we have exhausted all the trees in the forest. We can as well move on to construct another house before elections," he said.

In Nandi County, most leaders lauded formation of JP and said it was a political card that will ensure Ruto who is the United Republican Party (URP) leader ascends to presidency in 2022.

Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter and 10 Rift Valley legislators said the region had no option but to support the proposed disbandment of URP to 'cement a Ruto presidency.' MPs who included Julius Melly (Tindiret), Kirwa Bittok (Mosop), Cornelly Serem (Aldai), Elijah Lagat (Chesumei), Zipporah Kerring (Nandi Women Representative), Kipsang Belio (Basic Education PS), Andrew Tuimur (Livestock PS), Felix Koskei (former Agriculture CS) and Davis Chirchir (former Petroleum CS) took the opportunity to drum up support for the new party.

The leaders were optimistic that JP was the ideal vehicle for President Kenyatta to seek re-election in 2017 and for his deputy to ascend to presidency in 2022.

But Nandi-Hills MP Alfred Keter dismissed the new party saying their Mount Kenya political partners 'could not be trusted' and cautioned Ruto and his lieutenants to stop 'misleading the Rift Valley region.'

"What assures you that our Mount Kenya counterparts will give you support in 2022? Rift Valley region cannot afford to put all their eggs in one basket, the Mount Kenya region voters are capable of 'burning pepper in the Jubilee house' to make it inhabitable," he said.

Jubilee affiliate parties — including TNA, URP, United Democratic Forum, Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP), the Alliance Party of Kenya and New Ford Kenya — have agreed to join the new party.

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