The raid of United Republican Party (URP) offices over the list of delegates to this week’s launch of the Jubilee Party and a court injunction stopping Ford People from merging with this alliance underline some simmering tensions threatening to spoil the ruling coalition’s party.
On Thursday, some youths from URP broke into the party’s branch offices in Bomet County to protest against a list of delegates cleared to attend the three-day national delegates convention that will see 11 political parties fold and merge under the JP umbrella. They claimed those listed as delegates were irregularly selected, even as it emerged that Deputy President’s William Ruto’s party appeared to get the short end of the stick with an allocation of only 900 delegates compared to TNA’s 1,650.
Even as the row of delegates selected unfolds, the underlying tensions are being felt further afield, with members of one of the parties listed as among those set to fold challenging the legitimacy of their office bearers.
Last Friday, some PNU officials led by John Kamama went to court seeking orders to stop a delegates’ conference set to install Meru Governor Peter Munya as the new party leader. Mr Kamama, who is the chairman, and PNU’s Organising Secretary Alphonse Musyoki argued the meeting called by their Secretary General contravened the law.
They dismissed the notice sent out by PNU Secretary General John Anunda, saying it intends to endorse Munya as party leader without following procedures laid out in the party’s constitution. Through lawyer Victor Ayieko, who filed a case under a certificate of urgency before the political parties tribunal, the two leaders argued Anunda had no authority to call for either a National Governing Council (NGC) or a National Delegates’ Conference (NDC).
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A day before, the Political Parties Tribunal also heard a plea of Ford People members who challenged the party’s inclusion in the list of political outfits earmarked for dissolution.
Two weeks ago, the party had placed an advert stating its intention to dissolve, but Jerry Kenyansa, a member of Ford People in a suit restrained the party from either convening any meeting to discuss the planned merger or dissolution pending the hearing and determination of the case.
The Political Parties Dispute Tribunal responded by stopping the planned dissolution of Ford People party. In the South Rift, youths in Bomet, waving placards, rejected a list of delegates selected to represent the URP branch during the conference that will see URP dissolve. They said local officials did not consult them before drawing the list.
Led by Victor Rop and Patrick Rotich, the youths seized computers at the office in protest and locked the premises.
“We are not going to open this office until the list is redrawn and bona fide URP members included,” said Rop, a day after 500 delegates and party officials from 25 wards in Bomet County announced they had decamped to Chama Cha Mashinani.
These isolated incidents have deflected some of the attention from what is said to be the biggest party launch in recent years in which each party will be represented by delegates according to a pre-arranged formula.
Under this arrangement, TNA will be represented by 1,650 members, URP with 900 and APK with 620. Other parties will also be represented will UDF coming in with 600 members, while the remaining parties — Jubilee Alliance Party, Republican Council, Tip Tip, New Ford Kenya, UPK, GNU and PNU — will be represented by 500 members each.
URP is upbeat about the coming convention, its Executive Director David Koech said last week.
“We have finalised a list of our 900 delegates who will attend the party dissolution and the convention,” said Koech. JP national steering committee co-chair Kiraitu Murungi is also looking forward to the convention and dismisses those who say it will weaken the ruling coalition.
“JP will be launched as scheduled and those doomsayers will have nothing to say,” said Kiraitu, the Meru senator, in anticipation of the large number of visitors expected in the capital. Kiraitu says when the delegates are added to the supporters and hangers on who will be in the capital, about hundred thousand will converge for the three-day event.
“For the three days, people will realise this is the party for Kenyans — supporters from all walks of life across the country will throng Nairobi to see the formation of an all inclusive party that will unite all Kenyans,” said Kiraitu.
On Thursday, 10,000 delegates from 14 parties will be expected in Nairobi to dissolve the party and endorse the formation of the political vehicle President Kenyatta and Ruto will use to seek re-election in 2017 General Election.
Yesterday, the chairman of the Uasin Gishu URP branch Duncan Rutto said 120 delegates representing six constituencies will leave for Nairobi on the September 8.
“We will pay for the transport and accommodation for 20 delegates from the six constituencies. We will hold our own meeting on the September 8 as members of URP and discuss the folding of the party,” Rutto said. “We are very prepared for the occasion. Some of us are planning to leave Nyeri for Nairobi on Wednesday evening for better preparations while others will join us on Thursday,” Kihara Thuku, one of the delegates said.