URP divided over plans to hold grassroots elections
A row has erupted within United Republican Party over planned grassroot elections. Some MPs of the party — headed by Eldoret North MP William Ruto — have opposed the polls arguing that it will cause major rifts within the party before the general election next March. The elections have been called to elect officials in the counties and at national level at the end of this month.
"I have made it clear to our party that I am opposed to elections at this time as we head to elections because such polls will definitely cause problems yet we need unity now more than ever before," Cherang'anyi MP Joshua Kutunyi said. Kutunyi is leading the group that wants the grassroot elections postponed.
He said the splits in the party are already evident in some of the counties, where members and aspirants have opened up parallel offices ahead of the elections. The counties where factions have opened up more than one office include Pokot, Elgeyo-Marakwet and Uasin Gishu in the Rift Valley region, where URP enjoys substantial support.
"It is well known that no party has ever gone to its internal elections in an election year and survived without serious repercussions", said Kutunyi. URP is set to go to polls to pick its grassroot officials and nominate partybearers ahead of the next general elections. Chairman Francis Kaparo had announced that the polls will begin across the country on August 28 at the location level.
Kaparo said the party will then conduct its constituency and county polls on August 30 and 31. However, sources said another group of MPs led by Isaac Ruto of Chepalungu have vowed to go on with the elections arguing that they will strengthen URP. Isaac Ruto's group is pushing for the polls with the intention of eventually outdoing their rivals at the national polls. The Chepalungu MP has been at loggerheads with his Belgut counterpart Charles Keter over control of URP in South Rift. Kaparo and Ruto are however yet to comment on internal pressure to put off the polls until after the general election.