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Ruto allies plot to take over Jubilee ahead of party polls

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa at a past press conference. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

A face-off looms between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy over the control of Jubilee Party as the party prepares to hold elections in March.

Yesterday, allies of Deputy President William Ruto said they will fight for control of Jubilee from within.

They vowed to kick out officials allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta during the party polls in March this year.

Some members of the ruling party have warned that the polls could mark the beginning of a bitter political divorce between the two leaders if the growing wrangles are not resolved.

Kimilili MP Didimus Barasa said Dr Ruto’s camp has the numbers to take over key positions in the party.

He stressed that a majority of politicians who were involved in the merger of 13 political parties to form Jubilee are in Ruto’s camp.

Fight from within

He listed, among others, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, his Senate counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen and National Assembly Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali.

“We will fight from within and ensure that only those with the interests of the party at heart are elected to steer it forward,” said Mr Barasa.

“We will use whatever it takes to block rebels like David Murathe, Maina Kamanda and Raphael Tuju.”

Mr Tuju yesterday told Jubilee members he is keen to reduce the anxiety caused by the forthcoming polls.

He said tensions will only be subdued if the polls are conducted in accordance with the law guiding political parties.

“As a party, we are managing a political transition according to the 2010 constitution. We have to manoeuvre it with calmness. We need to consult each other instead of confronting one another,” Tuju said.

“Every interim official has a right to defend his seat. I was appointed to my current position by the party leaders because they trusted me. Leadership at this level is normally not because you are better than others or that you can win, it is about your peers reaching a consensus that you have the ability to serve at that level.”

Tuju explained that paid up members of the ruling party will form the corp of delegates from all the 47 counties who will participate in the election.

He said that the party will conduct a thorough scrutiny of its members’ roll to prevent infiltration by non-members.

The Ruto camp has waged an unrelenting war on current interim office holders, particularly Tuju. It claims the officials are playing partisan politics.

Wahome’s attack

Kandara lawmaker Alice Wahome over the weekend described Uhuru as a threat to the country’s democracy and freedom of speech, in an unprecedented attack on her party leader.

“The biggest existential threat to Kenya’s declining economy, democracy and freedom of speech is President Uhuru Kenyatta,” said Ms Wahome.

Nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura said the planned party polls could spell doom for the ruling coalition if the current wrangles persist.

“If we go to the primaries with all these issues, it is going to diminish the status of Jubilee. It will be a mockery of democracy to have polls in this kind of environment,” said Mr Mwaura.

Killer wrangles

He said that similar wrangles occasioned the death of Forum for the Restoration of Democracy and gave birth to splinter groups that weakened the opposition.

Belgut MP Nelson Koech and his Soy counterpart Caleb Kositany also vowed to weed out Jubilee members who are opposed to Ruto.

The two insisted that wrangles within Jubilee should not be misconstrued to mean the party is dying.

Mr Koech, a close Ruto ally, asserted that the perception that there are two factions in Jubilee - one supporting Uhuru and the other Ruto - holds no water.

He insisted the much-awaited Jubilee elections will offer an avenue to inject fresh leadership into the party, while rooting out Ruto adversaries.

“There are people in Jubilee who are blowing hot and cold. We will show them the door because Jubilee is a united party,” said Koech.

“We are here to install young, energetic and vibrant leaders who will steer the party in the right direction.”

He stressed that those who are not ready for the upcoming party polls should walk out.

“Those who are not prepared for the party elections should just ship out. Those who have been in the party and are blowing hot and cold will also be shown the door,” Koech said.

Ideology alive

Echoing Koech’s sentiments, Mr Kositany, another Ruto ally, said the Jubilee party ideology is still alive. “We are in Jubilee for the long haul. Party elections are welcome so that we can elect new office bearers and retain those who we feel have the interest of the party at heart. We are committed to free and fair party elections,” said Kositany.

It is a requirement under the Political Parties Act that every party holds its polls according to its Constitution, failure to which it risks de-registration.

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria said there was a feeling among some party members that Jubilee’s top leadership was somewhat afraid of confronting the challenges facing the party.

“This party belongs to all of us. They should stop fearing us and call the National Governing Council and the Parliamentary Group to discuss these matters. We cannot run away from them,” said Mr Kuria.

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