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Political dilemma in DP Ruto’s backyard as Uhuru’s purge goes to the national assembly

THE STANDARD INSIDER
By Steve Mkawale | May 31st 2020
Soy MP Caleb Kositany. [Kipsang Joseph/Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s purge on rebel Jubilee parliamentarians has unsettled leaders from the Rift Valley.

A section of politicians from the region allied to Deputy President William Ruto are now retreating as they wait for their Parliamentary Group meeting with the president, slated for June 2.

As Kenyatta consolidates his power, Ruto’s allies from the Rift will not be spared, in a move analysts term as ‘divide and rule tactic.’

There were claims that some MPs were being offered cash to attend the PG meeting, but The Standard could not independently verify the allegations.

Jubilee Party Deputy Secretary General Caleb Kositany claimed that some Cabinet secretaries, Principal secretaries and select governors have been calling MPs inviting them to the meeting scheduled for State House, Nairobi.

“What role do CSs and PSs have in the management of political party affairs? I have been with some of my colleagues who have received calls to attend the meeting. None has told me about such a meeting,” said the Soy MP, a close ally of the DP.

Speaking on the phone, Kositany said members have been calling for the PG for long and if such a meeting was convened, he would attend whether invited or not.

“I’m a member and an official of Jubilee Party. I do not need an invitation to attend a meeting convened by my party. If such a meeting is going to be held, I will attend,” he said.

He, however, could not name the CSs or PSs involved in organising the meeting.

Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi said they were aware of the plan to divide Rift Valley MPs allied to the deputy president by inviting some to the meeting and leaving out others.

“I’m yet to receive any invitation for the PG. But whoever is doing the invitation - either they invite all elected and nominated MPs or forget the meeting. If invited, we will decide whether to all go or not.

Sudi said if the party will endorse changes in the National Assembly leadership, the Ruto-allied lawmakers will accept it if the numbers favour their removal.

Hawakuzaliwa na hizo viti; zikienda ni sawa tutakubali (these positions are not anyone’s birthright, we’ll accept the changes anyway). We are elected leaders, we serve the people and that is what we will continue to do. We won’t be shaken by sideshows,” he said.

According to Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, the divide and rule tactic was meant to totally isolate the DP.

“If Uhuru has organised the PG meeting, we are ready to go but inviting members selectively is wrong,” said Ngunjiri, who revealed that he has not received an invitation. He said at least four of his colleagues from the county have received invitations.

Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama, who has been invited to the meeting, said the moment of reckoning for Ruto-allied legislators had come.

“A large number of my colleagues who had jumped to the DP’s bandwagon are now retreating and want to be part of the PG meeting because what will transpire at that meeting will drastically change the country’s political landscape,” Arama said.

Arama’s counterpart in Nakuru Town East, David Gikaria, is among Jubilee MPs who have ditched Ruto’s camp and will be attending the PG meeting. Gikaria is among three legislators said to have received invitations for the meeting through Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui.

Although Molo’s Kimani Kuria, Samuel Gachobe (Subukia) and Gilgil’s Martha Wangare said they would attend the meeting, they denied having received invitations.

Kuria revealed that there was a steering committee that was formed to organise the meeting and has been reaching out to members.

“There is a steering committee that has been appointed to organise the meeting. Being a Jubilee Party meeting of which I am a member, I shall attend if invited,” said Kuria.

He, however, dismissed claims by his Bahati counterpart that he had received money from Governor Kinyanjui to ditch the Tangatanga group.

“Ngunjiri should concentrate on matters regarding his constituency and not personal issues. My political support has never been on sale,” said Kuria.

Speaking on phone, Naivasha MP Jayne Kihara said she was not aware of any party meeting and was in the grassroots inspecting ongoing projects.

Kihara, who is a close ally of DP Ruto, said she was ready and willing to attend any party meeting if invited.

“I have not received any invite to attend any party meeting. I am currently in Naivasha serving residents,” she said.

Wangari was also not aware of any PG meeting nor had she been invited. However, she noted that she was aware that party disciplinary committee was meeting to discuss the fate of the six senators who missed the State House meeting.

“I am not aware of any Jubilee parliamentary meeting apart from the disciplinary committee that is meeting in Nairobi,” she said.

In the North Rift region, Chesumei MP Wilson Kogo and his Turkana West counterpart Daniel Nanok said they had not been invited to the PG meeting.

But a group of MPs who have been against Ruto in the region said they would attend the meeting and if the agenda will be the removal of rebel lawmakers, they will support it.

“Those leaders who have been fighting the president and rubbishing his agenda to unite the country have no business holding positions in the National Assembly or the Senate,” said Cherang’any MP Joshua Kutuny, who has been critical of the DP’s camp. His Nandi Hills counterpart Alfred Keter maintained that those contradicting the president and have leadership positions must either step down or be removed.

“You have no business enjoying the position given to you by the party and at the same time be disrespectful against the party leadership,” said Keter.

He alleged that most leaders in the DP’s camp were pursuing selfish interests at the expense of fighting for the welfare of the people. The DP’s team has been facing an uphill task in uniting the region, with leaders critical of Ruto accusing them of failure to appreciate their positions and the influence they wield.

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