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Uhuru reads riot act to Jubilee leaders and pledges to unite Mt Kenya political parties

POLITICS
By Sunday Standard team | August 29th 2021
President Uhuru Kenyatta with Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju. The MPs want Tuju and David Murathe out of the party's leadership. [File, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday reportedly read the riot act to Jubilee Party lawmakers from his backyard and promised to unite political parties with roots in Mt Kenya region.

Sources at the meeting in State House, Nairobi, said the MPs under the Mt Kenya Jubilee Caucus were taken aback when they met their party leader to push for rebranding of the party and expulsion of some leaders.

Top on the agenda for the 30 Jubilee loyalists (Kieleweke) was the bid to kick out party Vice-Chairman David Murathe and Secretary-General Raphael Tuju, whom they blame for losses in recent by-elections, especially in Juja and Kiambaa.

The legislators sought Uhuru’s nod to revamp the party, which has started in the region with reconstitution of party officials in the wards. 

However, the Head of State is reported to have addressed four key issues, including his relationship with Deputy President William Ruto, the calls to send Murathe and Tuju packing, the 2022 campaigns and the ODM/Jubilee pre-election pact.

Earlier, the MPs had promised to address the media on their deliberations with their party leader, at a time the mountain region has become a battleground for presidential aspirants ahead of the August 9, 2022 elections.

According to the legislators, revamping the party was to entail removing grassroots leaders allied to DP’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party, and replacing them with loyalists, a move that has put them at loggerheads with Tuju and Murathe.

The process, the MPs hoped, would culminate in a constitution of the National Delegates Conference (NDC) where major changes in the party leadership would be effected.

Sources said the president was categorical that he has no problem with Murathe and Tuju, since he has worked well with them.

The president however stated, “Chama ni yenu” without expounding further.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu yesterday told The Sunday Standard that Uhuru said, “if and where we want changes, they will be made.”

What shocked the MPs, and even resulted in murmurs, is when Uhuru dropped the bombshell. He is said to have told them to campaign for their re-election on their own.

“2017, I campaigned for you, this time I will not campaign for anyone. I will not be supporting anyone,” the president is reported to have said.

Uhuru also took a swipe at parliamentary committee chairpersons and vice-chairpersons, whom he challenged to show what they have done to deliver on his agenda.

He reportedly singled out Kieni MP and National Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman Kanini Kega.

“I hear you want to be the SG of the party. What have you done as a chair of the committee?” Uhuru posed.

Kieni MP Kanini Kega. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

On the severed relationship with the DP, the president indicated he had no problem with him when the MPs questioned what next after his recent remarks during an interview with senior editors, where he dared him to quit government.

“I have no problem with the DP. I am trying to bring everybody together but he is the one staying at the corner,” the president is reported to have said.

Lastly, he told the MPs that Jubilee and ODM are working together in Parliament.

“Whenever we have an issue in Parliament the first party to approach is ODM. The support is a block. We are already in the pre-election arrangement. I will be reaching out to CS Peter Munya’s PNU and other Mt Kenya parties and bring them together,” said the president.

No official communication

And for the first time, there was no official communication from State House Spokesperson Kanze Dena-Mararo on the nature of the meeting and no pictures were circulated.

Insiders also told The Sunday Standard that when the MPs left everyone was tight-lipped on the way to their vehicles.

The MPs’ request for funds to revamp the party also hit a snag as the party leader indicated there was none.

Some MPs are said to have raised their disquiet about the candidature of ODM leader Raila Odinga. The meeting told the president that campaigning for Raila in Mt Kenya would be a tall order.

Mathioya MP Peter Kimari said the apprehension was not really about Raila rather the state Jubilee Party was in.

“Raila can’t negotiate with Jubilee since the party is not strong,” he said.

“Once we rebrand, Raila who is on top of the list of possible preferred candidates will now have structured talks with Jubilee and if we come to a consensus, we shall criss-cross the region campaigning for him, but that does not mean we will not listen to others.”

Political uncertainty has struck Mt Kenya region since the Court of Appeal put brakes on the BBI. From a blanket endorsement of Raila’s candidature, some leaders in the region have retracted to “holding consultations” about the region’s best bet. This has left DP’s allies smug.

President Uhuru Kenyatta. [PSCU]

The president is said to have acknowledged that some work needed to be done, according to the MPs, including his presence on the ground.

The MPs said Uhuru’s hands-off approach had given Ruto a head start, to which Uhuru responded that he would become more involved in the region’s political direction.

Jubilee has flirted with reorganising, including merging with ODM to strengthen itself.

MPs Mwangi Gichuhi (Tetu) and Kega would only concede that President Kenyatta had agreed that the party needed to go into 2022 without Murathe and Tuju at its helm.

Kega described the meeting with the President as a self-reflecting moment whose outcomes will revive the ruling party.

He said the president will announce new party officials, adding that the current officials have portrayed the party in a bad image against its manifesto and aspirations.

“We also talked about succession politics and the unity of the region and agreed that the party will rebrand and enter new coalitions ahead of the next year’s polls,” he said.

Wambugu said they were not reluctant to sell Raila in Mt Kenya.

“We all agree on what our interests are. We have to agree on among those seeking the presidency post-Uhuru, who can deliver our interests. Uhuru will be critical in recommending this person based on his experience with all of them,” he said.

Murathe however said he was not aware of the deliberations. “I am yet to receive any brief, directions or instruction from the party leader,” he said.

Murathe said the MPs are within their democratic right to call for revamping of the party.

[Reports by Allan Mungai, Brian Otieno, Lydiah Nyawira and Ndungu Gachane]

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