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Change in strategy as Jubilee drops push for one party

By GAKUU MATHENGE | April 10th 2016

The Jubilee Coalition has dropped the push to dissolve partner parties as a strategy to recapture power next year.

Instead, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto will endorse the formation of a coalition of the willing re-election strategy at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru town next Saturday.

The endorsement will also put on notice Jubilee Coalition affiliate parties to brace to compete with the new outfit at the ballot box next year.

A thanksgiving rally to mark the successful conclusion of crimes against humanity charges against the president and his deputy at the International Criminal Court (ICC), is scheduled to be held in Nakuru on August 16.

The venue is symbolic of the unveiling of the Jubilee coalition’s joint ticket for Kenyatta and Ruto as presidential and deputy presidential candidates respectively in December 2012.

In an exclusive interview with The Standard on Sunday, Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP) interim Vice Chair, David Murathe, said the coalition had decided to allow those who wished to keep their parties keep them, but they will not hold back the drive to roll out the Jubilee Party of Kenya (JPK), once legal technicalities were thrashed out.

Contend with competition

JAP, whose senior most trustees by proxy is Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau and Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter, is the promoter of the yet to be registered JPK. “It is a coalition of the willing that also creates space for accommodation of some forces currently not in government.

The principal partners of The National Alliance (TNA) and United Republican Party (URP) are decided on the Jubilee Party as the re-election platform for 2017.

Those unwilling to join are free not to, but they must contend with Jubilee competition at the ballot box,” Murathe said.

Jubilee Presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta of TNA and his running mate William Ruto of URP lift their hands in a show of unity at Maua Town. (PHOTO: GEORGE MULALA/ STANDARD)

Murathe said with the ICC shadow off the back of the president and his deputy, focus now shifts to healing and reconciliation by campaigning for a second term in one party “to demonstrate confidence and trust”.

“Unlike 2013 when both TNA and URP zoned the country into different strongholds, with each issuing nomination certificates and campaigning in different regions, this time round there will be no zoning” he added. The zoning created unique challenges in which both parties denied nomination certificates to popular candidates perceived to be sympathetic or too close to either Uhuru or Ruto, but in the “wrong party zone”.

The bad blood that resulted from this conundrum has never been fully resolved in some areas like Maasai land, where TNA and URP sympathisers have remained bitterly opposed to each other to date.

The decision to drop the requirement for affiliate parties to dissolve and join the Jubilee was partly due to fierce opposition and accusations that the Jubilee coalition was out to roll back the democratic space by adopting a hostile stance against multipartyism.

Loudly rejected

Affiliates, among them former ruling party Kanu, the Party of National Unity (PNU), and sections of TNA and URP among others have loudly rejected the idea of dissolving themselves even as they supported Uhuru’s re-election.

MP for Kajiado West Moses Sakuda has been most vocal of TNA voices opposed to dissolution of his party in favour of JPK. Sakuda says TNA party organs, including MPs who contributed Sh10,000 every month to run party affairs, were yet to meet and make a decision on dissolution.

“Parties, individuals and voting blocs supportive of the president’s re-election for a second term should be free to do so from whichever platform they are comfortable with. Use of force or blackmail generates resentment,” Sakuda said.

The first of two TNA first borns elected on the party’s ticket in August 2012 (with Tirus Ngahu of Kangema), cited the Kajiado by-election loss to ODM last year, because a URP candidate defected to ODM to protest being compelled to join the Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP).

“Had we allowed both URP and TNA candidates to compete, victory of either would have been a government–friendly result. In a General Election, this strategy is critical because competing candidates and parties bring enormous positive impact on the logistics of mobilisation of presidential votes,” Sakuda said.

Kanu and URP have fiercely fought for space and supremacy in the URP-dominated Kalenjin backyard, with the former ruling party loudly rejecting any notion to have it wind up to join Jubilee party.

URP executive director and former Mosop MP David Koech said the Jubilee Party drive was irreversible, and those left outside should brace for a fight.

“Parties like Kanu pose unique challenges and the Jubilee side is fully awake to them. While doors were still open for negotiations, when time comes, they will be treated as rivals and competitors” he said.

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