Tribunal declines to save Jubilee Party leaders

Jubilee Party colours and insignia. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The fate of embattled Jubilee Party leaders now lies in the hands of President William Ruto’s allies after the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal (PPDT) declined to uphold their positions in the party.

The ouster battle will now pit Jubilee party leader-former President Uhuru Kenyatta and his successor Dr Ruto as the fate of party officials Jeremiah Kioni, David Murathe and Kagwe Gichohi lies in the hands of party members who shifted their allegiance to the United Democratic Alliance (UDA).

The Desma Nungo-led tribunal ordered warring Jubilee factions to resolve the dispute internally. It discharged the orders that had reinstated Kioni’s team.

“The issues underlying this appeal are internal issues between the party and its membership… The Tribunal can only assume jurisdiction once the attempt at the internal dispute resolution mechanism is demonstrated,” the tribunal ruled.

On the other hand, the tribunal also quashed the decision by the registrar of the political party Anne Nderitu to affect new Jubilee leadership without giving Kioni, Murathe and Gichohi an opportunity to be heard.

The East Africa Legislative Member Kanini Kega had replaced Kioni as the acting secretary general, Murathe (national vice chairperson), had been replaced by Aden Keynan and Kitui South lawmaker Rachel Nyamai replaced Gichohi as the treasurer.

At the heart of these battles, the Jubilee takeover. The President's ultimate score is whether he delivers Jubilee MPs to his side and boosts Kenya Kwanza numbers in Parliament. The Kanini’s meeting had okayed Jubilee’s cooperation with United Democratic Alliance.

In the case before the tribunal, the officials sued Nderitu and roped in party deputy secretary general Joshua Kutuny as an interested party.

Awele argued that Kutuny had no powers to execute Kioni’s roles adding that the members, who ratified the decision to kick him out alongside Murathe jumped the gun. He asserted that the NEC has no power to hear complaints against any party member.

“The principle that the Registrar is not simply a conduit but a critical player in determining whether decisions communicated to her office has complied with the law is now well anchored in our decisional laws. In so doing, it has been held the duty is not merely to rubber stamp decisions of political parties or their institutions,” argued Awele.

Murathe in his supporting affidavit argued that he was unaware of any notice to convene the NEC meeting. He averred that he was also not aware that there was any complaint against him or the reasons why he was suspended.

“It is accordingly evident that my legal rights and legitimate expectations as a bona fide office holder have as a result of the respondent’s negligent actions and omissions in the discharge of her statutory mandate been grossly violated and risk further violation if the illegalities complained of are not immediately remedied by the interim reliefs sought,” said Murathe.

At the same time, Kioni, in his supporting affidavit, contended that he learned through various social media postings that Kutuny had convened the NEC meeting and decided to kick them out and join the Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

He said the Jubilee changes were a well-planned coup where those thrown out were not given a hearing.

“The respondent (Nderitu) has the solemn duty of safeguarding the public interest of party members by ensuring compliance with the law and the party constitution before ratifying a decision as adverse as the suspension of bonafide officials of the party in such a cavalier manner. She failed to do so and thereby perpetuated illegality,” Kioni said.

Raila defended the embattled secretary general and accused the Kenya Kwanza of launching an “all-out assault” on the country’s democracy.

“There is an all-out push by the Kenya Kwanza regime to kill other parties, buy and co-opt Members of Parliament into its ranks and intimidate and bully all those that resist the administration’s illegal, unconstitutional and anti-democratic manoeuvres,” he said.

In another rebellion against the government, Azimio senators stormed out of the Senate chambers yesterday calling for the removal of Speaker Amason Kingi for failing to effect the removal of Jubilee’s Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo as Minority Whip who was replaced with Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina.