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Uhuru rebuke of Ruto triggers Jubilee chaos

President fires salvo at handshake critics, and defends soulmate Raila against claims he is out to wreck Jubilee

In Summary

• A section of Central leaders wants meeting with Uhuru and Ruto to save the party

• Jubilee MPs warn Uhuru against romance with Raila saying he is dangerous

President Uhuru Kenyatta at the AfriChampions forum in Nairobi on Wednesday, April 17, 2019
President Uhuru Kenyatta at the AfriChampions forum in Nairobi on Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Image: PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s stinging rebuke of his deputy William Ruto and his allies for their onslaught against the handshake has triggered a storm in Jubilee.

This upheaval emerged amid jitters among anti-Ruto forces within Mt Kenya region over the planning, organisation, strategy and financing the Tanga Tanga Team to take on Uhuru in his backyard.

Yesterday, Ruto's allies hit back at Uhuru accusing him of pretending that he does not know about what they claimed is 'Raila's history of deception'.

“It would appear the President has forgotten the person Raila is. He has forgotten who Raila is. If the President has forgotten we are going to remind him who Raila is some time,” charged Kapsaret MP Oscar Sudi, a fierce defender of the DP.

On Wednesday, a visibly fired-up President tore into critics of the handshake and termed as "pettiness" the claims that the truce with Raila was a political machination aimed at 2022.

"Oh oh, Raila anavunja Jubilee" (Oh oh, Raila is breaking up Jubilee) ... which Jubilee have we talked about? Oh, Uhuru anaingilia mambo ya ODM (Oh, Uhuru is meddling in ODM affairs.) Me, I have no clue even who ODM is," Uhuru said.

He went on, "He [Raila] has never told me he wants to be President in 2022; I have not told him I want to continue to be President in 2022. We have just been talking about the issues that affect our people."

The Presidents's statement was a vote of confidence in the handshake, which some of Ruto's allies have termed the "worst political fraud" in Kenya.

Last week in a televised interview, Ruto openly expressed his disdain for the deal and accused Raila of scheming to decimate Jubilee 'as he did to Kanu in 2002'.

The DP claimed only 95 per cent of Jubilee remains intact.

"I was in Kanu when Raila broke it. If Raila comes for me in Jubilee where I am Deputy Party leader, I will stop him," Ruto pledged.

Yesterday, Kimilili MP Didmas Barasa warned Uhuru against continuing to court a politician who has demonstrated contempt for his principal assistant.

“Raila has an agenda which the President seems not to be aware of. He is very manipulative and he has started this by undermining the President’s principal deputy,” Barasa told the Star.

Terming the President’s remarks "a personal opinion”, Barasa said Raila’s persistent claims that Ruto is a "thief", must be interpreted in the sense of trying to wreck Jubilee.

“By saying that money has been stolen, he is simply saying that the President is not in charge of a government but a casino where anyone can walk in and cart away money,” Barasa said.

Nominated MP and former Starehe MP Maina Kamanda, who leads a faction campaigning against Ruto, said those who have been fighting the handshake must know that they are the President’s worst enemies.

“It doesn’t take rocket science to see what the President was referring to. The answer is obvious. People have been going around the country every Sunday fighting the handshake. By fighting the handshake you are fighting the boss [the President],” he told the Star in a phone interview.

National Assembly Minority leader John Mbadi said the President was rebuking Ruto out of frustration.

"The President and his deputy have not been reading from the same script on various issues. Talk about the lifestyle audit, the DP took a contrary opinion. When the President spoke about state agencies fighting corruption and the agencies that he has confidence in, the DP has spoken against them. So I think this is a failed marriage,” the ODM chairman concluded.

Mbadi said that the President’s remarks were critical as they sought to confirm that Raila is not interested in the 2022 politics in Jubilee.

It doesn’t take rocket science to see what the President was referring to. The answer is obvious. People have been going around the country every Sunday fighting the handshake. By fighting the handshake you are fighting the boss [the President]
Nominated MP aMaina Kamanda

“That is exactly what we have been saying. What he is doing is about the current and future of this country,” he added.

Yesterday, a  senior senator from Central Kenya told the Star that there were jitters that Team Kieleweke has failed to match the political and financial muscle of their opponents for lack of leadership.

This essentially was an admission that Ruto's political schemes against Uhuru were working on Kenyatta'sdoorstep.

“There is no one to call for meetings to give directions. Everybody just wakes up on a Sunday morning and without a clue he walks into a church and starts talking, quite anything. There is no strategy and proper messaging,” the senator told the Star in confidence.

The leaders now want a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta to get direction on how to tackle the pro-Ruto’s forces that he said are getting smarter by the day.

Limuru MP Peter Mwathi said the Jubilee Party is splitting slowly and that the meeting would inform the next strategy to deal with the Tanga Tanga team.

Mwathi cited Ruto’s reception in Kiambu on March 31 by youths donning yellow T-shirts as confirmation that Jubilee was imploding, with Kieleweke and Tangatanga teams parting.

Kieleweke is comprised of politicians opposed to Ruto's 2022 bid while the Tanga Tanga movement backs the DP's ambitions.

“This is an indicator that we are split or we are headed to splitting the party. It is very wrong since Uhuru is the only party leader who became President out of all parties we have in this country," he said in Limuru town.

He added, “I feel its important the two leaders to have a meeting because people would not have worn those shirts without Ruto's blessings.”

Cherengany MP Joshua Kutuny, a fierce critic of Ruto, told the Star that Ruto’s allies must wake up from slumber into the dawning reality that the political landscape is shifting.

“The President must be tired of the people who don’t want to read his mind. The President is saying either you are with him by supporting his anti-graft war or you are with the enemy,” he said.

Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang said the DP and his allies’ claims that Raila came to wreck Jubilee were being propelled by agents opposed to the anti-graft war.

He said Jubilee was imploding and “people are fighting for their lives.”

“Our observation is that there are those who have benefited from corruption and Raila's entry has now re-energised the war against corruption. That's why they are jittery,” said the chairman of the Public Accounts and Investments committee.

Likoni MP Mishi Mboko said the narrative that Raila is rocking Jubilee is being fanned by those opposed to the war on graft.

“All this hullabaloo is coming just after President declared war against corruption, especially after the agencies started investigating the dams scandal. After the handshake, we had not heard all this talk of Raila rocking Jubilee,” she said.

Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi said Uhuru was infuriated by the actions by his deputy that appear to be frustrating efforts to secure his legacy.

“I look at President Uhuru as a leader who is very determined to achieve what he wants to achieve in terms of unity and implementing the development programmes. The other side, those led by his deputy William Ruto are gradually turning out to be anti-progress, anti-unity and corrupt,” he said.