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TNA, URP merger plans derailed, Ruto party plots strategy after Rift rejects JAP

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TNA,JAPTHE merger of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s TNA and Deputy President William Ruto’s URP has been halted in a move officials term “allowing for further consultations.”

Senior officials who have been working on the merger which was to the concluded by end of this year told the Star the process could not proceed.

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“The plans to merge the two parties have been shelved for now – to allow wider consultations. The merger will eventually happen on, or before, the year ends, but, for now, more time is needed to finalise on finer details,” the official at JAP, who sought not to be quoted by name, told the Star.

Kericho Senator Charles Keter and Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau were spearheading the merger of the two parties, which it is expected Uhuru and Ruto will use to defend their seats on a joint ticket at the 2017 general election.

But after the poor performance during the Kajiado Central by-election in March, senior officials who were campaigning for the merger have taken a low profile.

Ruto and Keter, who are reported to be the initiators of the merger, hardly mention the party during their public appearances.

Insiders told the Star that the cold feet in Ruto’s political backyard, the Rift Valley, have informed the JAP leadership and strategists to retreat to the drawing board and re-strategise.

However, JAP vice-chairman David Murathe has expressed confidence that the merger will eventually happen as planned.

Murathe told the Star that the party will launch recruitment “in due course”, but added it was not ready to get into early campaigns.

“We do not want to fall into the trap set by Cord to get into early campaign mode. We still have more than two years to the next election. Getting into campaign mode will be at the expense of flagship projects and the Jubilee Manifesto,” Murathe said.

Earlier this month, Kamau, a key architect of the party, said that JAP will kick off its membership recruitment next month.

Murathe said that the recruitment will be done at JAP’s pace and not in a way that will lead the country into early campaigning like the opposition.

“The membership drive is to popularise the party in readiness for the elections. The next election is in 2017. We are therefore resisting what Cord is doing, which is to distract the government from delivery that is key to the country’s development,” Murathe said.

On TNA and URP opening parallel offices in some regions, Murathe said “this enthusiasm for the new party is welcome”.

However, he added that the party will designate the official county coordinators and offices once all structures are put in place.

“We are welcoming and allowing everyone to do that because it shows how enthusiastic the people are about JAP,” Murathe said.

Some TNA and URP officials in the Rift Valley have opened parallel JAP offices in a number of parts of the region, opening up rivalries.

Uhuru and Ruto have categorically instructed their parties to dissolve by the end of the year.

– the-star.co.ke

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