TOUGH CHOICES

Ruto's options after losing Jubilee to Uhuru

Deputy President walks a tightrope after Political Parties Tribunal threw out NMC case.

In Summary
  • Ruto could walk out of Jubilee, form his own party or settle on existing outfit.
  • Analysts say the DP stands a better chance to win in 2022 if he is bundled out of Jubilee and impeached.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto in better days.
TUKO PAMOJA? President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto in better days.
Image: FILE

Deputy President William Ruto faces tough options after losing the first battle in his war to seize control of the Jubilee Party to President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe, a close confidant of the President, has said  Ruto's political differences with Uhuru are irreconcilable.

There are reports the President's allies are scheming to impeach Ruto and remove him from office.

 

The Political Parties Disputes Tribunal on Thursday threw out a case filed by Ruto's allies challenging the change of officials in Jubilee's top decision-making organ, the National Management Committee.

The tribunal ruled the case was prematurely filed by deputy secretary general Caleb Kositany (Soy MP), Senator Susan Kihika (Nakuru) and Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East MP).

The DP was relying on a favourable ruling by the tribunal to overturn the NMC changes, regain control of the ruling party and thwart attempts by Uhuru's allies to diminish his influence.

“We find that the complainant herein is premature and order that the complaint dated May 7 be hereby struck out,” tribunal chairman Desma Nungo ordered.

The ruling was a major blow to Ruto whose falling out with President Kenyatta has triggered a purge of his allies in key parliamentary positions.

By failing to get the NMC changes annulled, the DP was left pondering tough options to hold sway in the ruling party as he plots his 2022 presidential bid.

Critics and analysts say the DP is walking a tightrope to survive the President's onslaughts that have erected major hurdles on his path to State House.

“If they succeed in elbowing him out of Jubilee and impeach him successfully, the DP will be a formidable presidential candidate in 2022.
Analyst Danstan Omari

The DP can either live to fight for election within the Jubilee Party, walk out of the ruling party and re-brand an existing party or form a new 2022 vehicle.

The Party of Development and Reforms (PDR) has long been associated with the DP as a possible 2022 political vehicle though Ruto's allies have denied the claims.

Political analyst Danstan Omari told the Star Ruto will finally be hounded out of Jubilee by “political mercenaries hired by President Uhuru".

“If they succeed in elbowing him (Ruto) out of Jubilee and impeach him successfully, then the DP will be a formidable presidential candidate in 2022,” Omari said.

The lawyers argued the President brought onboard opposition leaders after realising he didn't have his own 'army in Jubilee'. 

“The mood of the country is slowly tilting against those fighting Ruto. If they purge National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale, that would be the defining moment and Ruto would be on his way to State House,” he said.

On Friday, the DP's allies pledged to stick to Jubilee and fight their battles from within, saying the reasons that made them collapse their separate parties to form Jubilee are still valid.

“We are not walking out of Jubilee and those who think we will give up the fight are misguided,” Kositany, Ruto's de facto spokesman on Jubilee affairs, declared.

The Soy MP told the Star the DP's camp now expects Jubilee's National Executive Committee to be convened by the secretary general, Raphael Tuju, to deliberate on the issues they raised.

Tuju is an ally of the President and he was critical in the installation of Lucy Macharia, Marete Marangu, Walter Nyambati, Jane Nampaso and James Waweru as NMC members despite Ruto's opposition.

“With the [Tribunal] ruling, now we are back to where we were so we exhaust the internal dispute resolution mechanisms,” Kositany said.

Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung'wa said Jubilee Party was formed as a national political vehicle bringing together all Kenyans regardless of their tribes.

“The Jubilee Party is owned by millions of members who subscribe to the philosophy of saying no to tribal parties run by ethnic chiefs. That is why they came together to form Jubilee. We shall pursue our political interests in Jubilee,” the MP said.

Ichung'wa, who chairs the National Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee, said the DP is not about to bolt from Jubilee and will not walk out.

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua denied the DP is walking any political tightrope, saying the turmoil in Jubilee is being orchestrated by certain elements pursuing selfish interests.

“The President and the Deputy President came together in 2013 with the sole purpose of uniting all Kenyans. Those claiming the DP is plotting a walkout are the enemies of the country's unity efforts,” Gachagua said.

As the rift widens between the President and his deputy, Murathe said on Friday the differences between the two had boiled over and were irreconcilable.

He said Ruto had openly challenged the President by whipping his allies to snub the Senate Parliamentary Group meeting convened by Uhuru at State House on May 11.

“It is not a secret, the DP was actively whipping senators not to attend. That is the height of insolence, it is unheard of anywhere in the world. That actually is not only defiance but also a threat to the President,” Murathe said.

Speaking to K24, the former Gatanga MP said the DP's action would be interpreted as a rebellion against his boss.

“It’s like asking the President, ‘Who do you think you are? You can call for a parliamentary group meeting and I can ask them not to come’. Unfortunately, in this case, their numbers did not add up,” Murathe said.