Why Uhuru has defied Ruto allies push for Jubilee meeting

In Summary

• Allies of Deputy President William Ruto have been asking for the meeting to discuss what they feel as burning issues splitting the party into factions.

• The president has warned against early 2022 campaigns and asked his team to support the big four agenda, a key fulcrum of his legacy.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto on July 12, 2019 in Nakuru.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto on July 12, 2019 in Nakuru.
Image: PSCU

Threats of a face-off with mutinous Jubilee MPs have forced President Uhuru Kenyatta to defy a push to convene a Parliamentary Group meeting.

Allies of Deputy President William Ruto have been asking for the meeting to discuss what they feel as burning issues splitting the party into factions.

The President fears that convening such a meeting would further expose the party as his critics may turn it into a shouting match in what would further deepen the rift in the ruling outfit.

 

Uhuru who has been cautious in calling for the crucial meeting, the Star understands, is aware that Ruto's allies may use such a forum to demand that he publicly declares his position on his 2022 successor.

The president has warned against early 2022 campaigns and asked his team to support the big four agenda, a key fulcrum of his legacy.

Speaking to the Star, some analysts and politicians admitted that the DP's lieutenants would turn such a PG into a political theater to demand the president's support for Ruto in 2022.

But the President's backers have accused the DP's lieutenants of trying to hold the President hostage by demanding for the meeting yet there is no clear agenda.

"Those who want to push the president into a tight corner are known. Their push for a PG is driven by selfish interests to shame the president. Claims there are rifts in Jubilee are orchestrated by the same wing that thinks they must succeed the president by hook and crook,” said Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny.

The Jubilee MP from the DP's rift valley backyard and who has turned into fierce critic of Ruto said the deputy president's team has panicked because of the conducive working environment brought about by the handshake.

“For them (Ruto's men), the handshake is a threat to their style of politics,” he added.

Ruto's allies have been pushing the President to convene the PG to seal widening cracks within the ruling party triggered by factional politics that threaten the ruling outfit's future.

The last time the president chaired a PG was on September last year before the passage of the then-controversial finance bill which had sparked internal divisions within his party.

As the spokesperson of the Jubilee party in Parliament I can say without fear of contradiction that we are all working in harmony. In Parliament we don't have Tangatanga or Kieleweke
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale

However, in the wake of his political truce with his soul-mate Raila Odinga in March 9, 2018, a section of Jubilee MPs have accused the president of turning down their calls for a PG to bridge the widening rifts.

Two factions have emerged within Jubilee with one christened Tangatanga pushing for Ruto to succeed Uhuru in 2022 while another dubbed Kieleweke has heightened opposition against the DP's ambitions.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale who is the Jubilee spokesperson in Parliament told the Star that such teams do not exist in the August House.

He said Jubilee lawmakers in the bicameral House are working in harmony in Parliament despite open cracks that appear to threaten the party's future.

“As the spokesperson of the Jubilee party in Parliament I can say without fear of contradiction that we are all working in harmony in Parliament. In Parliament we don't have Tangatanga or Kieleweke,” said the Garissa Town MP.

Downplaying claims that the president has parried off a push for a PG, Duale said such a meeting is convened by the Party leader and the deputy party leader when there is a clear agenda.

“As of now, no MP has written to the majority whip asking for a PG. When such a request is made, the whip in consultation with the party secretary general will set the agenda of the meeting and then request the party leader to convene a PG,” he told the Star.

However, Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri said the President has remained silent despite obvious cracks within the ruling party

“The centre can no linger hold. The noise you are hearing around is because as a party we are not speaking in one voice. The problems are compounded by the fact that there is no room for ventilation as members of the Jubilee party,” he told the Star.

The vocal lawmaker who has often taken the President head on said the handshake has brought a lot of confusion in the party.

“Nobody understands the handshake. We don't know whether the handshake is meant to build Jubilee or destroy the party. The president must come clear on this matter through a PG,” he said.

Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, a staunch supporter of the DP, blamed opposition leader Raila Odinga for the problems facing the ruling party.

“Since the handshake last year, it has become clear that it was a two people affair and had no genuine intentions of uniting the country. The Jubilee party is divided right in the middle and yet we have no forum to say this,” he said

The vocal lawmaker asked the President to urgently convene a PG so that members can freely explain themselves for the sake of the party.

“A PG is long overdue. The confusion in Jubilee is brought by lack of a forum for members to ask questions and get clarifications. It is important that the President to have a forum like a PG where MPs can freely ask questions and get clarifications,” he said.

The MP also accused a section of Jubilee leaders of widening the cracks in the party through 'arrogance and don't care attitude.”

“We need to overhaul the leadership of the party. Some of the officials are actually to blame for the situation we find ourselves in,” he told the Star.

National Assembly Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali admitted the need for a PG in the coming days to seal the cracks.

“It is true that some members have been calling for a PG. As the leadership of the House, we support such a move. But the PG is convened by tour party leader and the deputy party leader when there is a clear agenda and when it is convenient to them,” he said.

Jubilee is facing tumultuous moments that threaten its future amid claims that Ruto's allies are apprehensive of the President's support for the DP in 2022 in the wake of his friendship with Raila.

“Jubilee is in a tight corner. It would be interesting to see if it sticks together until 2022. It is facing imminent disintegration,” said political analyst Martins Andati.