The Jubilee Party has upped the stakes ahead of its official launch, with 35 elected Opposition MPs expected to join the new outfit.
Five governors elected on parties affiliated to Opposition CORD are also set to decamp during the Saturday launch
of the new party, according to Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale.
He revealed that the list of defectors includes county speakers keen on dumping the Opposition and joining the new party during its national delegates conference (NDC) in Nairobi this weekend.
“We will have about five governors and 35 MPs from the CORD coalition and other smaller parties who will join us. The launch will be the beginning of a united Kenya,” said Duale.
“We want to ensure Jubilee Party belongs to all Kenyans and that it does not discriminate,” he added.
Parties affiliated to Jubilee are expected to dissolve and merge into one ahead of the next General Election. However, at least four parties have resisted dissolution with some members lodging petitions with the Political Parties Tribunal (see separate story).
The reports of defectors yesterday came in the wake of sustained trips by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, to CORD-dominated areas, in what is seen as a charm offensive to eat into Opposition support.
The Opposition, which has dismissed the merger, has responded by launching its own effort to protect its turf, with Opposition leader Raila Odinga making forays into his traditional bases to shore up support.
Although the full list of MPs expected to defect to Jubilee was not immediately available, it was expected that rebel Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro (ODM) will be among them. Others are from Rift Valley, North Eastern, Coast, Kisii and Western regions, according to Duale.
Mung’aro, a former Opposition chief whip, has been openly cavorting with the government.
Opposition governors expected at the launch are Salim Mvurya (Kwale), Ukur Yattani (Marsabit) and Hussein Dado (Tana River), according to sources in Jubilee.
The sources said the new party also expected to receive Lamu Governor Issa Timamy (UDF) and West Pokot’s Simon Kachapin (Kanu). Mvurya announced last week that he was willing to work with Jubilee, but did not explicitly announce his defection.
Yesterday during the burial of the wife of veteran politician Simeon Nyachae, ODM’s Kisii senator Chris Obure backed Nyachae’s call for Gusii unity and support for the government. “I am the chairman of ODM in Kisii but I am calling for the community’s unity and support for the government. The community will greatly benefit if we support the national government,” said Obure.
In the recent past, a number of Opposition MPs have been paying visits to State House ‘to discuss development’. Among recent visitors are MPs from Kisii, Narok and Western regions.
“All those willing to join us will all come with their delegates and will be given a chance to build a new and more united Kenya,” said Duale.
The run-up to the merger has been overshadowed by a scramble for party positions, after a list of alleged officials emerged this week. There is also tussling over the list of delegates to the convention.
The contentious list, which has Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi as chairman and The National Alliance (TNA) chairman Johnson Sakaja as secretary general, has sent shivers down the spines of some of the dissolving party officials that are eyeing 19 key slots up for grabs.
Some leaders, including New Ford Kenya leader Ken Lusaka have termed the list speculative and intended to influence President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto while picking the interim officials.