Thirteen political parties are on Thursday expected to dissolve when they hold their National Delegates’ Conferences in Nairobi as they prepare to form the Jubilee Party on Friday.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Ruto, set the tempo for Thursday’s activities by hosting the chairpersons and secretaries-general of the 13 parties at State House, Nairobi, where it was agreed that the new party officials be unveiled on Saturday at the Safaricom Kasarani Stadium.
The two leaders also met at least 21 governors from Jubilee-affiliated parties. The county bosses pledged to work for the new party, which President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto will use to seek re-election next year.
By Wednesday evening, the 12,000 delegates expected to dissolve their parties, trooped to Nairobi and were hosted at various hotels across the city with parties financing their accommodation through mobile money transfers.
Jubilee’s National Steering Committee officials on Wednesday met at the new eight-storey party headquarters at Pangani and described the proposed merger as the next big thing.
The committee is co-chaired by Senator Kiraitu Murungi and Dr Noah Wekesa.
“We are in the final touches of coming up with the party,” said Mr Murungi, who is also the Meru Senator. “This is a party that will propel Kenya to a new era of social harmony, and peace. It is the party we have all been dreaming about.”
The parties folding are President Kenyatta’s The National Alliance (TNA), Deputy President Ruto’s United Republican Party (URP), Mr Murungi’s Alliance Party of Kenya and Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka’s New Ford-Kenya.
The others are Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP), United Democratic Forum (UDF), National Rainbow Coalition, Ford People, the Republican Congress Party (RC), Tip Tip, the United Party of Kenya (UPK), the Grand National Unity (GNU) and the Party of National Unity (PNU).
On Wednesday, Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said the delegates were converging in Nairobi in line with each party’s constitution. Their key job on Thursday will be to pass resolutions to dissolve their parties.
“The number of delegates who are coming is decided by the constitution of each party. They will have no big role on Friday and Saturday because those will be open events,” he said.
Other officials allied to Jubilee said wananchi and party supporters had also been invited to the events of Friday and Saturday.
Mr Murungi said the events would start with today’s dissolution of the parties during the meetings to be held at Kasarani and Bomas of Kenya.
“At the end of tomorrow (Thursday), there will be no TNA, URP, APK, or any of the other 13 parties. We will all be one from Friday,” he said.
All the delegates will on Friday have a joint meeting at the Kasarani Indoor Arena to ratify the formation of the new party.
The day’s highlight will be a speech by Mr Ruto, who is the designated Deputy Party Leader. Political leaders from various countries and senior politicians will also address the meeting.
The highlight of the three-day event will come on Saturday, when President Kenyatta will address the forum and officially unveil the new Jubilee Party, his 2017 re-election vehicle. During the launch, he will name the 77-member interim National Executive Committee that will lead the party. He will also unveil the party’s symbols and slogan.
On Wednesday, the little known Muungano Party wrote to the Registrar of Political Parties to protest the use of the word, “Pamoja”, in Jubilee’s “Tuko Pamoja” slogan. Muungano wants Jubilee stopped from using the word.
After meeting delegates at the Indoor Arena on Saturday, President Kenyatta will address a public rally at the Kasarani Main Stadium. He will also unveil the new party officials.
“We have all resolved and agreed that whatever position one will get, they will serve diligently. We have no official now and the list of officials in a section of the media is false,” said Mr Murungi.
EXPLAIN SOURCE OF MONEY
Jubilee has set up a new state-of-the-art call centre with new computers and telephones that sources said would be the nerve centre of the party’s activities ahead of the 2017 General Election. The call centre on the ground floor will also be used to handle complaints and enquiries from party members.
Mr Murungi on Wednesday dismissed claims by Cord leaders, who had asked Jubilee to explain the source of the money being spent on the launch.
“People can say anything,” Mr Murungi said. “There is something called the Political Parties Fund and that is where we are getting our funds.”
Earlier, in a TV interview, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale had dared Cord to table evidence of State funds being used to host the three-day event.
“Parliament budgets for every coin that goes to the Executive. Let them tell us what cent we have taken from the government to fund ourselves,” he said.
During the press conference at the party’s new headquarters, Mr Murungi said that the excitement around the new party was like the day Kenya gained Independence in 1963. Dr Wekesa said that the new Jubilee Party would secure democracy and bring Kenyans together.
“There are over 100 parties in Kenya and only 14 are merging to form Jubilee. How is that killing democracy? Within ourselves, we will be free to express our views,” he said.
Reported by Bernard Namunane, Patrick Langat and Stella Cherono