URP top organ meets to rein in party rebels


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UR_PIXDeputy President William Ruto has called a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of his URP party to discuss the conduct of members who have defied the party’s position on the Pesa Mashinani referendum campaign spearheaded by the Council of Governors.

The November 24 meeting at the party’s headquarters in Nairobi is expected to not only reprimand but also formally ask individuals like Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, who have stuck to their guns on the referendum push even after the DP reportedly told those who are not willing to toe the party line to leave, to seek another party.

Party Secretary-General Fred Muteti told the Sunday Nation that they are ready to crack down on anybody who is not singing the party’s tunes.

“Party discipline is non-negotiable, and that is why it features prominently on the agenda items for the upcoming NEC meeting,” he said.

But in his characteristic fashion, Governor Ruto dismissed the planned censure as inconsequential, arguing the NEC was in office illegally.

“Elections in URP were abandoned midway before the last elections, and I do not remember a day when new officials were picked,” he said.

Mr Ruto is leading the Pesa Mashinani drive that seeks increased allocations to counties. All Jubilee governors, save Mr Ruto and his Kericho neighbour Paul Chepkwony, have withdrawn their support for the referendum.

But it is not just Governor Ruto who faces the chopping bloc. Kuresoi MP Zakayo Cheruiyot is also a marked man; he is accused of attacking the DP at public rallies.

“We warn Mr Cheruiyot to stop using the Deputy President as his punching bag every time he has his own political problems.

Even if he invested a lot in the formation of URP, that is not a reason to attack the DP in public,” Nakuru Deputy Governor Joseph Ruto said a few weeks ago.

Kenya is a virtual political duopoly where one either supports the Jubilee administration or the Opposition Cord. And since Cord is pushing for a separate referendum, Governor Ruto has been accused of secretly working with Cord to undermine the government, a charge he has denied.

URP and TNA are the principal partners in the Jubilee Coalition headed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The NEC also plans to fill party positions left vacant after Mr Francis ole Kaparo, its former chairman, was appointed to head the National Cohesion and Integration Commission. Party insiders say that former Fafi MP Elias Bare Shill will be confirmed as his replacement.

“This is not an election; those who left had their deputies who will automatically replace them,” Mr Muteti said.

Former Moyale MP Mohamud Mohammed, the former treasurer, was appointed to head the Kenyan mission in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Ms Fatuma Mwakaza will assume his position.

The individuals, Mr Muteti said, will serve until April 2015 when the party delegates will elect new office holders.

“The National Delegates Conference convenes in April to, among other things, elect party officials, so what we are assembling on Monday is a caretaker team even though there are chances of re-election for those serving,” he said.

Another agenda for the Monday meeting is to create cohesion between URP governors and Members of the County Assemblies.

Governors and MCAs have been at loggerheads all over the country, and URP has not been spared. For instance, there was an unsuccessful attempt by Kericho reps to send Governor Chepkwony packing in May.

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