President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto appear to have eaten humble pie and abandoned their tough talk on the small affiliate parties that declined to merge with Jubilee Party.
In a move seen as a way of consolidating their support base and increasing their chances against a resurgent Opposition, Uhuru has embraced the small political outfits that threaten Jubilee’s dominance in the bicameral Parliament.
Apparently, the Jubilee leadership fears that the nomination process may not be acceptable to all and some of their aspirants could take off and join small parties.
On Saturday, addressing a rally in Wajir county, Uhuru disclosed that the small parties were now part of JP and he pledged to work with whoever is elected on the affiliate parties.
The President also disclosed that the recently formed Party of Development and Restoration is an affiliate of Jubilee’s and they will work together.
“Jubilee and PDR are all our parties. You, the people of Wajir, whoever is elected in any of these parties will be part of my government,” he told the well-attended rally.
He said: “Jubilee will work with anybody elected by the people. When you elect me, my government will work with those you want and have chosen. Our agenda is for you to elect those in government”.
But even as JP is trying to consolidate its strongholds, the gloves appear to be coming off for a titanic and bruising battle for control of the populous South Rift vote bloc, after Ruto vowed to send Bomet Governor Isaac Rutto into political oblivion.
Soon after the JP merger of 11 political parties late last year, the smaller outfits that declined to fold up were branded opponent parties and were treated like the Opposition, but their upsurge in popularity has forced the JP leadership to find a working relationship with them. The parties that declined to be merged in JP included the Independence party Kanu, which has a huge following in Ruto’s bedrock Rift Valley, the Party of National Unity, the Democratic Party, and Martha Karua’s Narc Kenya, all of which still enjoy good support in the larger Mt Kenya region.
Then there are also some parties that have said they will support President Uhuru Kenyatta’s reelection, but field candidates for all other positions.
The parties are seen to have been brought on board strategically for JP not only to lock down the counties considered as battlegrounds, but also to ensure the ruling party gets a bite from the Opposition’s reputed strongholds.
They include the Labour Party of Kenya, Maendeleo Chap Chap, Kenya Patriotic Party, Frontier Alliance Party, Economic Freedom Party and the Party of Democracy and Reforms.
A week after Rutto issued a two-week ultimatum to Jubilee and NASA to approach him for a possible political deal the DP has fired a salvo at his friend-turned-foe rallying the region to vote him out. DP Ruto seven days ago held a mammoth well attended JP rally on Governor Rutto’s doorstep of Bomet town where he opened a war-bath telling off the defiant county boss that he has no place in Jubilee.
In less than a month, the DP has visited Bomet County twice, in a clear show of how determined he is to retain his political control of the region.
A fortnight ago when he was in the county to issue a cheque to Sotik New KCC, Ruto called on the residents to vote Rutto out on August 8.
The DP said the Governor has been a stumbling block towards implementation of key projects in the region.
“I am now the DP because of you people…you supported me. I will never allow anyone to become a barrier towards our unity and implementation of crucial developments just because of selfish interests,” he remarked.
He said Kenyans should choose leaders who support development projects being rolled out by the national government. “You people should be careful this time round and not choose candidates who do not oppose projects; your governor [Rutto] troubled us, he has endeavoured to see the University is not constructed, but even with that, come August, we are going to put a governor here who wants it put up,” the DP said.
Yesterday National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale and Senate Deputy Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen sent a strong signal to some leaders in the vote-rich Rift Valley who allegedly are undermining the Deputy President’s leadership, telling them they will be rendered politically irrelevant come August 8.
“We want to make it clear that our brothers who are being misused by outsiders to undermine the leadership of Ruto their days are numbered. We have asked voters to put them where they belong come the August election,” Duale said.
He told residents of Rift Valley to vote out those individuals in the region out to prevent the Deputy President’s ascent to take over national leadership after Uhuru’s second term comes to an end in 2022. He said JP is unstoppable.
Murkomen said Rift Valley residents would not allow some few individuals to divide voters to achieve their selfish gain, affirming that the region was firmly under the DP’s leadership.
“We only know of one Ruto, who is the Deputy President. Any other Ruto who claims to be our leader is a photocopy or counterfeit. Ruto is the seniormost leader from the region and should be accorded the respect he deserves and those being used by outsiders to divide the region’s votes will not succeed in their mission,” he said.
This week CCM is expected to announce which coalition it will support between Jubilee and NASA, but there are clear indications that CCM is likely to throw its weight behind a NASA presidential candidate.
ANC deputy party leader Kipruto Kirwa last week said NASA was keen on working with CCM.
NASA brings together Raila Odinga (ODM), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) and Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya).