WIDENING DIVIDE

Jubilee MPs want to meet Uhuru over emerging divisions

In Summary

• Jubilee MPs want a Parliamentary Group meeting before State of the Nation address next Thursday.

•The meeting is to iron out the emerging difference between the.

President Uhuru Kenyatta
President Uhuru Kenyatta

Some Jubilee MPs are pushing for a Parliamentary Group meeting ahead of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s State of the Nation address next Thursday.

They say the Jubilee house is burning, they have burning questions and they must have answers.

Calls for a meeting came as some anti-DP William Ruto lawmakers began to threaten to impeach Ruto for openly contradicting the President and 'opening war on a government he serves'.

Siaya Senator James Orengo, a key ally of Opposition chief Raila Odinga, separately said he would champion the Ruto removal bid.

Lawmakers calling for the PG insist the meeting is long overdue and essential in steadying the Jubilee house that is on the verge of implosion.

Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, a Ruto supporter, said the Jubilee Party was in flames and must be salvaged.

It is also feared that pro-Ruto MPs may take advantage of parliamentary privilege to disrupt Uhuru's address or stage an open rebellion including walkouts.

Uhuru's anti-graft fight has caused jitters within Jubilee and Ruto has openly claimed the purge spearheaded by Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti aims to shatter his presidential dream.

Yesterday National Assembly Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali confirmed to the Star that the Parliamentary leadership had formally requested for a PG meeting with the President.

However, the Parliamentary Group meeting could be unlikely given the raging political war pitting a section of Ruto's brigade against Uhuru's foe-turned-friend Raila Odinga.

“From our end, we have done request. I agree there is a feeling that a parliamentary group meeting is necessary to cool political temperatures,” said the Mumias East MP.

Washiali said Jubilee's troubles have been fuelled by the handshake deal between Uhuru and Raila.

“The handshake brought a lot of stability in the country. However, when it was transformed into the fight against corruption, it has become a poisoned chalice targeting one person," the Mumias East MP said.

When Jubilee was formed, its mandarins claimed the party would maintain its grip on power beyond 2032.

Ruto's lieutenants want assurance from the President that the ongoing war against corruption is not choreographed to cut the DP down to size.

Those who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals said they would also protest against what they believe are instructions to the DCI to target specific projects with huge political benefits to Ruto.

We are seeing a certain script being directed at hurting the DP’s fortunes. It is no secret and we want to have a sit-down with the President

The politician said they want meeting held before next Thursday when Uhuru is to deliver the State of the Nation Address.

MP Ngunjiri said a PG is long overdue.

“I appeal to the President that he should call us for a meeting to deal with burning issues in our minds. Jubilee is burning and we can’t sit back and watch,” he told the Star.

The President will address a special joint sitting of the National Assembly and the Senate on April 4 when he is expected to highlight this government's achievements in the past year.

His exceptional performance in the fight against corruption, peace, and stability after his handshake with Raila are likely to dominate his address.

A PG that had already planned for July 3, 2018, was called off by the President at the last minute under unclear circumstances.

Nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura, a strong supporter of President Kenyatta, also backed the calls for a PG to "quell rumour mongering and petty gossip".

"The party is clearly divided right down the middle and if this [PG] can help, then it a welcome move," he told the Star

However, Nyaribari Chache MP Richard Tong’i (Jubilee) said it is the President’s prerogative to call a PG when he finds it necessary to do so.

“The President is the party leader and knows what is good for Jubilee and at what time. If the President finds it good to call a PG, that would be fine. If he finds that his schedule is busy, we will allow him another time,” he said.

The Defence and Foreign Relations Committee vice chairman told the Star that in light of the handshake, Jubilee MPs no longer have any superior influence over the President compared to others.

“I don’t support the idea of monopolising the President,” Tong’i said.

On his part, Kiambu MP Jude Njomo said the President’s State of the Nation Address next week is, "not special, it's like any other and doesn’t call for a preceding PG".

"It is the prerogative of the President to call for a PG as the party leader. There is been a lot of noise around but that doesn’t warrant anything extraordinary to warrant a PG,” the MP told the Star on phone.

The law requires that the President addresses a special sitting of Parliament once every year to submit for debate a report on the progress made in fulfilling international obligations.

Article 132 of the Constitution also provides that the President shall, during that occasion, submit a report on all measures taken and the progress in the realisation of national values.

But despite pressure from Ruto's allies, it has emerged that the President men are not sleeping easy either.

There are murmurs that some ex-Jubilee MPs who lost in the last elections are pushing for Ruto's impeachment. 

But nominated MP Maina Kamanda, the harshest critic of Ruto, declined to directly indicate whether the impeachment motion was on the cards.

“On the impeachment, let us wait and see,” the former Starehe MP said in a tactful response to the Star yesterday.

As the impeachment plot was being hatched, some former and current MPs in the ‘Stop Ruto Movement’ are already planning a major anti-Ruto rally within Uhuru’s Central Kenya backyard to push for his removal.

Multiple sources told the Star the planners were contemplating holding the rally in Kiambu’s Kirigiti, Githunguri, or in Murang’a over the issue of graft.

The leaders would use clergy and musicians to mobilise the region to turn up for the rally tentatively planned for April.

But Orengo, speaking separately in Siaya on Sunday, said he would spearhead Ruto's impeachment. It' not clear if the two moves are related.

I want to repeat here and now that the Senate together with the National Assembly, we want to bring a motion of impeachment to kick out DP Ruto from office
Siaya Senator James Orengo

Orengo, a renowned lawyer and senior counsel, said that the DP can be thrown out of office in accordance with Article 150 on the impeachment of the Deputy President.

The Siaya senator said it's time for lawmakers to make maximum use of the provision by demonstrating the power of the Constitution to “those who usually think they are above the law”.

However, impeachment of the Deputy President is a rigorous legal process that must be triggered by a member's motion in the National Assembly.

Such a motion must be supported, before tabling, by at least a third (117) MPs of the 349-member House.

The Constitution provides that the Deputy President may be removed from office on the grounds of physical or mental incapacity to perform the functions of the office, or through impeachment.

On impeachment, the DP can be removed from office on grounds of gross violation of the Constitution or any law, where there are serious reasons to believe that he has committed a crime under national or international law, or for gross misconduct.

Article 145, provides that such a motion must be supported by at least two-thirds (233) MPs on the floor of the House.

Thereafter, the speaker shall within two days forward the motion to the Senate for a hearing and final vote.

If at least two-thirds of the senators uphold the impeachment, then the deputy president shall cease to hold office.

However, Ruto is known to enjoy cordial ties with the majority of the MPs and senators in the current Parliament, a situation that would complicate the plot to expel him from office.