JUBILEE WRANGLES:RUTO MEETS KALENJIN MPs ON UHURU VISIT
DEPUTY President William Ruto Deputy on Tuesday night met URP MPs and Kalenjin businessmen at his office on Harambee Avenue at a time of internal wrangles.
The agenda of the meeting was to discuss the tour of President Uhuru Kenyatta to Rift Valley scheduled for next week but an MP who attended the meeting said that Ruto told them “to be patient with the government and stop unnecessary politics.”
“The mood in the meeting was cordial, we interacted very well and discussed a number of things. Although the agenda of the meeting was not about what has been appearing in the media, it could not fail to be mentioned,” said the MP.
Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter confirmed that he attended the meeting which lasted almost 4 hours. “I am a URP MP and I had to attend. I was received well and I think other MPs are in agreement with the things I have been pushing for. I only maintained that we need development projects and jobs,” Keter told the Star yesterday.
Despite his public statements, Ruto himself is not completely comfortable with some aspects of the Jubilee alliance. Uhuru has three Kalenjin advisers, all from URP, in his office but Ruto is unhappy that one of them has been making appointments for outsiders to meet the President without involving him. Ruto has reportedly raised the matter with Uhuru and might be preparing to seek the dismissal of the adviser.
Both leaders are said to be concerned that some Jubilee operatives are using their proximity to the Presidency to make money. Last month, State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu warned that the President was concerned over some people using his name to seek favours.
“These people are using the President’s name to demand favours, issue illegal orders or even threats to officers in government departments or the private sector. The President has a simple message. Please stop your racketeering and illegal adventures,” Esipisa told journalists at State House.
Ruto has expressed concern several times over the use of the Presidency by “a few people seeking to enrich themselves and appear powerful”. Some URP members are uncomfortable about “underhand dealings” between some URP and TNA operatives that appear to undermine Ruto.
They believe that some officials in Ruto’s office are colluding with counterparts at State House to make deals even when they do not meet the President.
The friction is making it difficult for Ruto maintain complete unity within his URP party. Four Kalenjin businessmen who contributed to the Jubilee campaign are reportedly concerned with the “lukewarm” manner of Ruto who they claium is becoming increasingly inaccessible.
“The businessmen believe that they are not ‘getting what they had been promised’ by Uhuru or Ruto,” said an MP who has attended their meetings.
“They have been holding meetings. They feel that Ruto appears to be growing weaker in championing the community’s interest in the coalition. They are also concerned that his office has become a guarded area with only two politicians from Rift Valley having the full access to the office,” said the MP.
Last week Alfred Keter and a businessman from North Rift were invited to State House but their invitation was abruptly cancelled after “an outside official called to say there was no need for the meeting”.
On Sunday, Alfred Keter said in his constituency that Jubilee was formed on a 50-50 basis and government jobs should be distributed equally. Addressing a rally in Thika on Sunday, Ruto criticized “junior politicians” for complaining in the media and accused them of suffering from “hangovers of the past.”
However the studious silence adopted by most URP MPs suggests that they share the sentiments expressed by first term Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter. And judging by Tuesday evening’s meeting, Ruto is not as critical of those MPs in private as he is in public.
A URP MP told the Star yesterday that Ruto’s decision to respond to Keter in public was confirmation of the rising tensions within Jubilee. “Just ask yourself why the DP would opt to respond to an individual he has referred to as a junior politician in a public rally,” said the MP.
Yesterday the Nandi Hills MP said he would not be silenced by “primitive loyalty” and promised to speak his mind. “I cannot be a sycophant and will not accept to be gagged by some self centred politicians. As a leader, I am speaking on behalf of our people. I do not need to be appointed a Kalenjin spokesman to speak on matters affecting the community which voted overwhelmingly for Jubilee,” said MP Alfred Keter.
Over the last two weeks Keter has been criticizing Uhuru’s TNA party for sidelining URP in government. This week Elgeyo Marakwet senator Kipchumba Murkomen defended Ruto’s criticism of a “political greenhorn.”
“We all know that Keter is not speaking for himself. The DP chose that method because it was the best way to deliver the message to his masters,” he said.