President Uhuru Kenyatta has been assured of Kanu’s support in his bid to seek re-election, and it is now expected that Jubilee Party will work out an arrangement with the former ruling party as they prepare for this year’s General Election.
This follows a meeting between Uhuru and former President Daniel Moi.
The decision dampens attempts by the National Super Alliance (NASA) to work with Kanu, which still enjoys enormous influence in the vote-rich Rift Valley region.
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Kanu had at some point been seen to gravitate towards NASA after Secretary General Nick Salat attended a meeting at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi and announced that the former ruling party would support NASA.
It has now emerged that Uhuru met the former President, Kanu chairman Gideon Moi and West Pokot Senator John Lonyangapuo at Moi’s Kabarnet Gardens residence in Nairobi.
It is expected that Kanu will now work with Jubilee to ensure President Kenyatta gets support in the Rift Valley.
Friday, Prof Lonyangapuo told The Standard on Saturday that Uhuru had visited Mzee Moi to urge for his continued support.
“The President had a cordial conversation on a variety of issues with Mzee who asked him to ensure that the upcoming elections do not divide the nation,” said Lonyangapuo.
Lonyangapuo said it was during this meeting that Uhuru requested Kanu to join hands with Jubilee in the August General Election as they had done in 2013, a matter the retired President asked the party leadership to consider.
Mzee Moi is said to have told Uhuru to respect Kanu, especially because his father had been a stakeholder in the party which shepherded the country when it attained independence in 1963.
Kanu will now be expected to field candidates in the Rift Valley and its contestants will vie for all seats except the presidency. This matter is bound to come up when Kanu holds its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on Tuesday next week.
Uhuru’s visit comes a few weeks after his mother Mama Ngina paid Mzee Moi a visit at his Kabarak home.
Friday, former Kalenjin Council of Elders chairman Major (Rtd) John Seii said the visits by the Kenyattas were largely for consultations between Uhuru and his political mentor and may have little to do with politics.
The Jubilee Party and NASA have been battling to get into a parnership Kanu which enjoys huge resources and networks across the country.
With JP and Kanu now pursuing the same objective, the two political parties will have to navigate their relationship, especially because JP’s number two William Ruto, the Deputy President, has had a frosty relationship with Kanu leaders.
With Kanu announcing that it will field candidates in areas where JP will also be represented, political tensions could get a little heated.
For instance in West Pokot and Baringo, Kanu has fronted Prof Lonyangapuo to battle it out with Governor Simon Kachapin (JP) for the governor’s seat, while former minister Samuel Poghisio, a former United Republican Party (URP) chairman but now a member of Kanu, is eyeing the Senate seat in the same county.
But of particular interest will be the battle for the Elgeyo Marakwet Senate seat that is likely to pit incumbent Kipchumba Murkomen against former Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo of Kanu.
Assuming these candidates get their party’s nomination, then they will have to carefully navigate how they will relate with their partners.
Last year, Kanu gave Jubilee a run for its money in the Kericho Senate by-election after President Kenyatta appointed then Senator Charles Keter Energy Cabinet Secretary.
Leaders from the region are optimistic about the partnership. Former Roads Minister Franklin
Bett, is seeking to secure the JP ticket to vie for the Kericho Senate, said working with Kanu would unify voters in the Rift Valley.
“This will ensure a strong support base for Uhuru and Ruto in 2017 polls. I request Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto to also consider a similar arrangement,” said Bett.