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Jubilee leaders differ over claims of rift after handshake

Sunday July 15 2018

Jubilee leaders

From left: Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina and Murang'a Woman Rep Sabina Chege at Karatina Girls Secondary School in Nyeri on July 14, 2018 during a funds drive. The leaders denied claims of a rift within the Jubilee Party. PHOTO | JOSEPH WANGUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Jubilee lawmakers have differed over claims that political unity between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga caused divisions in the ruling party.

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka, Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina and Murang'a Woman Rep Sabina Chege denied there is any rift, saying the party is united and intact.

But Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua said there are attempts to divide the coalition into two camps.


Mr Gachagua admitted there is looming rift and pointed to the creation of two factions in Jubilee named 'Tangatanga' and 'Kieleweke' after the March 9 handshake between the President and Mr Odinga.

'Tangatanga' refers the group that accompanies Deputy President William Ruto in different parts of the country and drums up support for his 2022 Presidential bid, while 'Kieleweke' is a group that opposes the early campaigns and is apparently opposed to the DP's ambitions.

"Few people have tried to divide us but we are one party under the leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta. The (attempted) division failed," said Mr Gachagua.

On his part, Speaker Lusaka maintained that there are no divisions in the party.


"We welcomed the handshake for national unity. Initially it was hard to preside the House business in Senate and someone would think we were two countries. Now we can engage on important things together," said Mr Lusaka.

He disclosed that the Jubilee Party leadership has resolved to suspend politics and focus on delivering pledges made during the last campaigns.

"2022 is far and we will work first as directed by the President," he noted.

Ms Chege also denied the existence of cracks between politicians allied to the President and his deputy William Ruto.

"The President and his deputy are in Jubilee and (there is) no politics or rift between the two. Those trying to divide [them] won't succeed. We want to work and deliver on our manifestos," said Ms Chege.


Senator Maina called on Mr Odinga to have formal engagements when dealing with the building bridges initiative.

"Those who want to talk to him (Mr Odinga) should engage formally. Jubilee Party has its own structures and the handshake will continue," said Mr Maina.

Mr Gachagua said though the handshake lowered political temperatures in the country and it should be taken to the grassroots.

He further discouraged Mr Odinga from engaging poll losers if he wants the building bridges initiative to bear fruit.

"He (Mr Odinga) should work with those in office. If he wants to meet leaders, meet with people like Senator Maina who is an elder. Nyeri has fronted Mr Maina to be their leader," said Mr Gachagua.

"Those whom we defeated in last election met and lied to him that they were rigged out during nominations. In Mt Kenya, Mr Odinga must engage leaders and the people," said the MP, who is a close ally of DP Ruto.

The politicians were speaking Saturday at Karatina Girls Secondary School during a funds drive in aid of building a perimeter wall.

Mr Lusaka also attended different functions in Kirinyaga, Nyeri and Murang'a counties.


Ms Chege and Mr Gachagua further welcomed the recent Cabinet reshuffle by the President which saw Peter Munya and Adan Mohammed swap positions.

"Munya understands the trade and industrialisation docket. We have had issues of traders demonstrating in the city and they needed somebody to listen to them. And so I am hoping Mr Munya will be able to settle the issues of traders and especially small scale traders affected by counterfeit imports by unscrupulous businessmen," said Ms Chege.

She also supported the President’s move to include the opposition in the recent government appointments.

"We have seen the handshake has started working. People from the other side have been appointed. I think this is the spirit. We are in support because we want every Kenyan to feel they are part of the government and create a sense of belonging," said Ms Chege.