Uhuru, Ruto seek to popularise JAP in Rift Valley rally
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Ruto, Sunday sought to stamp out the rebellion in sections of Jubilee, projecting a united front in the face of rumours of fissures in the coalition.
They also used a funds drive in Bomet County to try to rally the residents of Rift Valley behind the wobbly Jubilee Alliance Party, their preferred party for the 2017 General Election, even as some leaders remained lukewarm towards the new electoral vehicle.
Mr Kenyatta also tried to quash the growing perception that his deputy was losing ground in the region, dismissing it as a creation of the media.
In a statement seen to be directed at Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, who has of late been a vocal critic of the coalition, the two leaders warned such leaders that “the writing is on the wall”.
The President said even though they would tolerate differences of opinion, they would not allow it to divide the coalition.
“What are we really arguing about? If there are any issues, let us sit down, discuss and iron them out…we do not want to wash our dirty linen in public,” President Kenyatta said at the Bomet Green Stadium where he presided over a fundraiser for the construction of the African Gospel Church Investment Centre and regional office.
“If you want to engage us in a public contest, then you can go to the media. We will use those newspapers to wrap meat with the next day,” he said amid laughter from the crowd.
SUPPORT FOR DP RUTO
The President, who was accompanied by at least 30 MPs, three senators and three governors then demanded to be told why Bomet residents and those of the wider Rift Valley region appeared not to support his deputy.
“I keep on reading in the newspapers that you are tired of my deputy or this is just a creation of the media?” he asked. The crowd roared back that this was not true.
Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto held the fundraiser amid growing grumbling in the region regarding the fate of the United Republican Party (URP), which Mr Ruto leads, following the formation of JAP.
The point has also been made that Mr Ruto’s allies bore the brunt of a graft purge ordered by the President and that currently his name is being mentioned adversely with regard to a Sh28 billion tender for the rehabilitation of the Moi Teachers and Referral Hospital in Eldoret.
The President said Kenyans did not elect Jubilee leaders to quarrel with other leaders but to implement the various development projects that would be beneficial to the country.
“And we have tried to do this. This is the first government to implement the Constitution and we are up to the task,” he said.
“In the two years we have been in power, some 22,000 schools have been connected to the electricity grid and only 1,500 have not…70 per cent of expectant mothers are now giving birth in hospitals and not the 40 per cent it was when we took over.
“We cannot, however, implement such programmes if we are not united. We cannot do this when we keep on quarrelling,” he said.
On the controversial Mau evictions, the President said they will not allow the encroachment of the complex.
“We have plans to plant tea to act as a buffer zone to check further encroachment in future. However, there should not be burning of houses.”
Mr Ruto played down reports of rifts between him and Mr Kenyatta, saying they were working well.
“When you chose us to these positions, did you tell us to go and fight?” he asked.
He said unlike the Grand Coalition Government, which resulted from a peace agreement, the Jubilee administration was the outcome of friendship.
He also said he would remain patient until his time to lead the country comes.
“If you are not patient enough to be led then you do not have what it takes to be a leader…I am satisfied with being the deputy president and I have nothing to complain about,” said Mr Ruto.
And speaking in Kalenjin, he said he was not a fool to leave President Kenyatta yet he (Mr Ruto) was just a heartbeat away from State House.
“For 12 years, retired President Daniel arap Moi acted as the Vice President of the late President Kenyatta and later took over from him as a result of his patience,” he said.
“Raila and Kibaki on the other hand used to quarrel so much and this cost the former Prime Minister the presidency,” he said.
He told the gathering that all communities would benefit from the formation of JAP.
“We are going to bring together other political parties to make the alliance formidable for the sake of unity of purpose and posterity in the country,” he said.
Governor Ruto steered clear of politics, as had been demanded by religious leaders, and only urged leaders to work together to move the country forward.