URP MPs quietly abandon Jubilee Alliance Party
THE proposed URP and TNA merger has ran into political headwinds in the Rift Valley, posing a strategy headache for Deputy President William Ruto, who has endorsed the union.
Both President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto have agreed to fold up their parties and seek re-election in the 2017 polls on the Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP) ticket.
But while JAP appears to gain ground and is attracting considerable excitement in Uhuru’s Central Kenya backyard, Ruto’s supporters do not seem at all excited.
Key URP leaders marketing the highly touted political merger who planned to crystallise it by year’s end have encountered rough terrain in the Rift Valley amid scepticism from other legislators.
“It’s true that the majority of the residents of Rift Valley are not for the merger, but it’s mainly because we started on the wrong foot. We needed to have consulted the people first before moving on,” Chesumei MP Elijah Lagat told the Star on the phone yesterday.
“It reached a point where some of us appeared to be singing our own song. Uhuru and Ruto have to lead from the front – then we follow.”
Lagat said it was necessary for URP and TNA to merge in a bid to help eliminate tribalism in the country but warned that “URP supporters have to be consulted widely”.
Kericho Senator Charles Keter and his Elgeyo Marakwet counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen are said to have slowed down their campaigns for the new union owing to resistance on the ground.
A section of URP legislators critical of the merger plans have also asked the DP to be careful of the move, arguing it could be a scheme to neutralise his popularity in the Rift Valley.
Already, Ruto’s grip on Rift Valley politics faces stiff opposition from Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, who has launched an all-out campaign to rebrand and rejuvenate Kanu to challenge the DP’s 2022 presidential bid.
In what could deal the merger another blow, Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto is also leading another war front against the DP, angling for the spoils should URP fold.
The Star has established that the DP’s closest allies have been forced to slow down their high-flying campaigns to market JAP in the Rift Valley owing to the cold reception they are receiving on the ground.
Vocal Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter sensationally warned that TNA had hatched a plot to work very closely with Moi to block Ruto’s presidential ambitions. He said JAP was part of the scheme.