Uhuru unveils his 2017 party, Raila fights plan
President Uhuru Kenyatta launched his re-election bid in earnest on Tuesday after he announced that he will be defending his seat through the newly created and broad-based Jubilee Party.
Some 12 political parties — including President Kenyatta’s The National Alliance (TNA) and Deputy President William Ruto’s United Republican Party (URP) have agreed to fold and join the new movement.
“We want all Kenyans to be and to feel included in the government,” Mr Kenyatta said at a press conference televised live from State House, Nairobi, and attended by the chairmen and secretaries-general of the 12 parties that have agreed to the historic merger.
The parties will be dissolved officially on September 8.
“We are delighted to announce that all the conventions for the affiliate parties will be held simultaneously on September 8, 2016,” the President said.
During the respective delegates’ conferences, the parties are expected to formalise their resolutions to dissolve and join the Jubilee Party.
Delegates of the dissolved parties will then gather for the Jubilee Party’s National Convention for the official launch of the movement.
“Thereafter, I will have the honour to preside, together with the Deputy President, at the inaugural Jubilee National Convention on September 9 and 10, where the new grand national movement will be unveiled,” said Mr Kenyatta.
Outlining his plans for the new party, the President also moved to allay fears of favouritism during primaries by declaring that the party’s leadership would not have preferred candidates and that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) would be asked to conduct the giant party’s primaries later next year. He also asked other parties to contract the IEBC.
He said: “In the past, nominations usually led to discord, which is the problem that has plagued most of our political parties over the years. This is occasioned by politicians protecting their own interest over the interest of their parties.
“Neither my deputy nor I has any preferred candidates for any single elective position. The people will decide for themselves. Nobody should stand up and say that I have been sent by the DP or the President, go out there and talk to the voters. We shall work with those elected by the people.”
Once the parties merge, this will be the second time a sitting President will abandon his party to seek re-election in a new political vehicle. The first was retired President Mwai Kibaki, who abandoned the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) and sought re-election under a new party — the Party of National Unity (PNU).
Incidentally, PNU was among the parties represented at Tuesday’s meeting although it was not clear yet if it has endorsed the merger.
During the State House meeting on Tuesday, the President introduced the chairmen of the 12 parties that have agreed to dissolve. He said their decision to merge was aimed at uniting Kenyans and to ensure that all communities are part of the government.
He said that the formation of Jubilee Party would enhance democracy in Kenya by creating an all-inclusive governance system. However, Cord leader Raila Odinga and ANC boss Musalia Mudavadi criticised the move, saying it would take the country back to the era of the one-party State.
“We want all Kenyans to be and to feel included in government and this is the reason why I am staking my legacy on political unity,” President Kenyatta said.
Mr Ruto also lauded the creation of the party, saying it embodies the dreams of the founding fathers, who wanted a united Kenya.
“They wanted Kenya to have a nation that every community and every region can be proud to belong to. This is a response to challenges the country has faced in the ethnisation of our politics. Today, we are gathered here to chart a new course,” Mr Ruto said.
Among the party leaders present were Senator Kiraitu Murungi (APK), MP Johnson Sakaja (TNA), MP Barre Shill (URP), Governor Ken Lusaka (New Ford-Kenya), Mr Kalembe Ndile (Tip Tip), Mr John Kamama (PNU), MP Ben Washiali (UDF), Mr Albert Nyaundi (Ford-People), Governor Nderitu Gachagua (GNU), Mr Petkey Miriti (UPK) and Jubilee Alliance Party chairman Nelson Dzuiya.
The Majority Leader in the National Assembly, Mr Aden Duale, and his Senate counterpart, Prof Kithure Kindiki, were also present.