New Jubilee party to ensure Uhuru re-election and handover to Ruto
Political operatives keen to ensure a continued solid political relationship between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto and manage the succession after the 2017 General Election are behind the formation of the Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP).
The Sunday Nation established that the President and his deputy ordered the creation and registration of the new formation and tasked a secret group of trusted operatives to go shopping for a fully registered political entity.
Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto are expected to explain details of the whole idea to Jubilee Alliance legislators at a Naivasha retreat scheduled for next weekend.
However, those privy to information on the new outfit, but who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the idea is to enable the President to easily defend his seat in 2017. The upcoming Kajiado Central by-election appeared to have offered the perfect opportunity to forge unity.
All parties under Jubilee, according to the designers of the new arrangement, are expected to be dissolved by 2017 to further consolidate the Kikuyu and Kalenjin voting blocs underthe JAP to prepare the country for the Kenyatta succession with Mr Ruto as successor in 2022.
Sources say President Kenyatta summoned Kigumo MP Jamlek Kamau to State House and briefed him on the new idea. Mr Kamau was then dispatched to Deputy President William Ruto for further briefing where he and Kericho Senator Charles Keter were tasked to work out the finer details.
The idea was generated after the appointment of Maj-Gen (rtd) Joseph Nakissery to head the Interior ministry when it was determined it would be self-defeating to keep fielding numerous candidates from the same coalition.
Contacted by the Sunday Nation, Mr Kamau said; “Eventually we want to make sure that URP and TNA are dissolved and everyone comes on board JAP. We want to move as one and not lose seats like we did in parts of the country in Trans Nzoia because we had members from the same coalition competing.”
JAP was previously the Conservative Party, a little-known outfit that has nevertheless been a member of the Jubilee Coalition.
“By picking a party that was already in Jubilee, it means that members of URP and TNA can campaign in the Kajiado by-election without any conflict. We want to move this way into 2017. JAP will be the party to watch,” Mr Kamau said.
Maara MP Kareke Mbiuki Saturday confirmed that the creation of JAP is meant to prepare the way for a smooth re-election of President Kenyatta and initiate a platform that Mr Ruto will use to inherit the Mt Kenya votes in the 2022 elections.
“We want the President to run on a JAP ticket to defend his seat in the coming elections, then hand over the party to [Mr] William Ruto for the 2022 polls,” Mr Mbiuki told the Sunday Nation.
He said that TNA, URP and all the other Jubilee affiliates will be dissolved into a single solid party with everyone on board. Though sceptics doubt the arrangement will last, Mr Mbiuki insisted the party will ensure Mr Ruto wins the presidency after Mr Kenyatta’s tenure.
“Everything is being done to ensure what happened in Narc and earlier in the Kanu-NDP merger is not repeated,” he said.
The legislator told this newspaper that proponents of the new political party are basing their hopes on the perceived warm relationship between President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale also supported the formation of JAP, saying it would help unite Kenyans and also avoid a leadership vacuum within the ruling coalition.
“The new party will be a power to reckon with. We know who our flagbearers for the next 15 years will be. The others should also tell Kenyans who will carry their flag in the coming polls,” Mr Duale said.
FIELD A CANDIDATE
Mr Duale was speaking at Ol-Ari’ Ng’iro secondary school in Laikipia County where he was in the company of Laikipia Governor Joshua Irungu, county Senator GG Kariuki, Women Rep Jane Apollos, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa, Kiambu Town MP Jude Njomo and Laikipia West MP Wachira Karani.
On Friday TNA chairman Johnson Sakaja said the new party would field a candidate in the Kajiado Central by-election to be supported by the Jubilee Coalition members. “The party’s first agenda is to ensure we have a strong candidate in the Kajiado Central by-election,” he said.
However, there have been whispers of opposition to the idea with critics arguing the plan obstructs democracy and multiparty politics. Others, even though not entirely opposed to the idea, said there was insufficient consultation.
Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi described the move as dangerous, saying it is an attempt to muzzle the people’s right to express themselves without fear by creating a situation where independent-minded politicians in the coalition will not be seen as a threat.
“I am also afraid that the formation of this new party has been done in secrecy. The coalition supporters are not aware, and this could mean someone is planning something sinister,” Mr Linturi said.
Kajiado West MP Moses ole Sakuda also expressed concern about the hurried formation of the party, warning that the timing is wrong.
“We are not entirely opposed to the idea, but there are concerns that consultations were not done well. There are MPs who are not aware of this thing at all. Then the symbol of a black dove also signals something bleak,” Mr Sakuda said.
Kuresoi MP Zachayo Cheruiyot Saturday said he was surprised by the announcement.
“I really do not know about it. I just bounced on it in the media. We are waiting to hear what they will tell us during the retreat next weekend.”
Kericho Senator Charles Keter, an ally of Mr Ruto, and former Gatanga MP David Murathe, an associate of the President, are said to have led the process of acquiring the Conservative Party, a moribund Jubilee affiliate, and renaming it JAP.
Some TNA supporters of the idea argue the plan will salvage Mr Ruto from the raging turmoil in his party. Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto and a group of powerful Moi-era individuals separately appear to be sustaining rebellion against the deputy president in the Rift Valley.
“We are giving Ruto an avenue to avoid the destruction that the wrangling in his party may bring to his political future. His supporters should support this idea without fail,” said a TNA MP, who did not wish to be named.
And speaking to Sunday Nation Mr Keter argued: “We are already in Jubilee anyway. That is how it should be looked at.”
Some of the critics have also expressed fears that the operatives behind the creation of the new party have already positioned proxies and failed politicians to hold brief for them in the new party.
The new officials of the party include Mr Nelson Dzuya (chairman) who unsuccessfully contested the Rabai parliamentary seat in 2013, receiving just 86 votes on a URP ticket.
Ms Veronica Maina, a city lawyer, is secretary-general, while Mr Alfred Kipkorir, a Kericho-based businessman and ally of Mr Keter, is the treasurer with Mr David Murathe as the vice-chairman.
Other officials include Ms Pamela Mutua (organising secretary), Ms Fatuma Mahamud (deputy treasurer) and Mr Nixon Korir (executive director).
When Mr Kenyatta acquired TNA in 2012, he first tested the party in the Kangema and the Kajiado North by-elections before using it to create a coalition with URP.
URP secretary-general Fred Muteti appealed to URP members to be patient, arguing that the idea was good for the party.
A section of URP members turned to social media to rubbish the alliance with some claiming it would deny party members an opportunity to negotiate in case Jubilee fails to form the next government.
Separately, Imenti South MP Kathuri Murungi lauded the formation of the new Jubilee Alliance Party terming it a move in the right direction.
“The formation of the party has come at the right time. It will make the Jubilee alliance stronger than before as we prepare to retain the country’s leadership in 2017. Personally, I am ready to popularise the party in my constituency and beyond when the right time comes,” he said.
And, reacting to the formation of the new party, the Bomet governor asked President Kenyatta and his deputy to resign and seek a fresh mandate from the people following their decision to merge their political parties.
Mr Ruto said it was wrong for the two leaders to give their blessings to the merger without consulting members.
“We were shocked to learn that the President and his deputy have already registered a new party whereas they were still members of their respective political parties,” he said.
“Why should the two leaders mislead Kenyans that TNA and URP will be merged ahead of the next General Election when already the new party will be presenting a candidate for the by-election in Kajiado Central?” he asked.
He said it was clear that by forming the new party the two leaders had become disloyal to the parties that sponsored them to power. “They have no business holding onto their seats,” he charged.
“We are in URP to stay, and we are not about to defect to the new party.”
On Governor Ruto’s statement, Mr Kamau said; “My brother Governor Ruto does not understand what is going on. I wish he first established the facts. JAP is one of Jubilee Coalition’s constituent parties. There’s no broken bone and he should relax.”
But Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow criticised the move in no uncertain terms.
“I find it surprising that the Jubilee coalition leaders would set up a new political party secretly, with the aim of winding up TNA and URP, without the involvement of the members. it’s disheartening to say the least,and clearly unfair for the coalition leaders to create the so-called JAP without any form of consultation with the Parliamentarians or coalition party officials,” he said.