Mr Musalia Mudavadi’s United Democratic Forum on Wednesday formally withdrew from the Jubilee coalition, ending a dispute that appeared likely to threaten the presidential election joint ticket of Mr Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr William Ruto.
Some party officials had insisted that withdrawal amounted to dissolution of the Jubilee coalition, which therefore would not be allowed to present Mr Kenyatta of The National Alliance and Mr Ruto of the United Republican Party as president and running mate under the Jubilee banner.
UDF national chairman Hassan Osman and secretary-general Dan Ameyo walked out of a meeting called by Registrar of Political Parties Lucy Ndung’u and announced that the party had formally applied to have the alliance dissolved so that the three partners could go their separate ways.
“UDF has signed off its consent for the dissolution of the coalition agreement between us, TNA and URP on December 4, 2012. As a party, we have no further obligations to that coalition agreement,” Mr Ameyo told journalists outside the Registrar’s office.
The move was immediately rejected by TNA and URP, who maintained that the agreement that brought UDF in the Jubilee coalition was never legally binding in the first place, and therefore the latter party could not purport to dissolve or withdraw from the coalition.
“The agreement between UDF, TNA and URP does not exist because it was never ratified by the parties’ highest decision-making organs. When you accept to come in as a second wife and you later decide to walk out, the marriage with the first wife does not necessarily end,” said TNA secretary general Onyango Oloo.
He maintained that TNA delegates had rejected the agreement signed by its leader, Mr Kenyatta, his URP counterpart, Mr Ruto and UDF’s Mr Mudavadi.
“What exists is the December 3 agreement between TNA and URP,” he stated. URP official Davies Chirchir echoed the same view, saying the party’s governing council never met to ratify the document incorporating UDF into the coalition due to time constraints.
“Things were moving so fast that URP could not mobilise its members from all the 47 counties to come to Nairobi and ratify the agreement,” he stated.
Ms Ndungu said she had seen presentations by the feuding parties – UDF on one side, and TNA and URP on the other – but she did not explain the next course of action or the ramifications.
“I have received the documents presented by both parties and filed them,” she stated without elaborating.
UDF had earlier issued a statement saying it had resolved to pull out of the coalition.
“UDF will this afternoon sign the relevant papers to formally terminate its coalition agreement with TNA and URP,” said the party’s communications director, Mr Mundia Muchiri, on Wednesday.
“The party’s NEC and the Political Council met in Nairobi this afternoon and mandated its chairman and secretary general to sign the termination agreement,” he said.
Mandera Central MP Abdikadir Mohammed, however, downplayed statements suggesting that UDF was insisting on full dissolution of the Jubilee coalition or retaining the Jubilee brand.
Mr Mohammed, a founder member of UDF said the party did not have any ill feelings and had left the alliance unconditionally.
“We would like to state that any insinuations by some quarters that UDF is preparing to lodge conditions is misleading and malicious. We leave with no strings attached and no conditions and wish those in Jubilee Coalition well in their undertaking,” Mr Mohammed said in the company of Laikipia West MP Ndiritu Muriithi.
On Monday, the three parties met with the Registrar after UDF accused TNA and URP of breaching the agreement by failing to involve it in the presidential nomination for the Jubilee Coalition.
The parties however failed to resolve the row after the two-hour meeting and pushed it to on Wednesday. At an evening joint press conference with representatives of the Jubilee coalition, the MPs said the split was legal and friendly.
“We are disengaging on mutual consent, we are not enemies and we are in competitive politics. Our mission and vision remain. We wish our friends well,” said Dujis MP Adan Duale, speaking on behalf of URP and TNA.
Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni of UDF said: “Even as we move in different ways, it should be for the good of this country. We are not parting ways as people who have quarrelled. Our enemies remain the same - the fight against bad governance. Moving apart is to pursue political ambitions using different vehicles.”
Additional Reporting by Njeri Rugene