The Jubilee Party was officially formed Thursday as 12 political parties folded at separate colourful delegates’ conventions in Nairobi, capped with the defection of six Cord lawmakers.
Jubilee, on whose ticket President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto will be seeking re-election next year, was given life at the Bomas of Kenya after Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP) delegates changed its name to the Jubilee Party (JP).
Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot moved the proposal to bring the new party to life.
This simply meant dropping the word “Alliance” from the Jubilee Alliance Party. His proposal was seconded by the JAP’s only MP, Ferdinand Waititu.
The delegates broke into jubilation as the party’s new symbol — two hands locked in a grip — was unveiled.
This essentially set the stage for the launch of the new party at the Safaricom Kasarani National Stadium on Saturday.
Twelve other parties, including President Uhuru Kenyatta’s The National Alliance (TNA), also dissolved.
Hundreds of TNA delegates converged on the Kasarani Indoor Arena and unanimously passed a resolution to dissolve the party.
Chairman Johnson Sakaja led the members in adopting the resolution that would see the President’s party disbanded.
“We cannot allow the type of politics that seeks to divide us. We are purposed to join other parties that believe that for Kenya to move forward, we must all sing one matching anthem,” said Mr Sakaja, a nominated MP.
Party leaders welcomed the move but urged the delegates to be at the forefront in promoting the new one to ensure the President retains his seat in next year’s elections.
“As a country, we need development that can be owned by all of us. [The] Jubilee Party will take us in that direction. It will be good to have one party that will have [a] super majority in both Houses of Parliament,” said National Assembly Majority Whip Katoo ole Metito.
TNA Secretary-General Onyango Oloo said party members should not be worried about losing their identity because the Jubilee Party would accommodate all of them.
“I know it is painful for some of us to close our beloved TNA but normally you must lose some shores to discover new islands. We must come together for the benefit of the country,” he said.
A SINGLE BRAND
At the Kasarani Stadium, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale led URP delegates in dissolving the party, whose leader is Mr Ruto.
The Deputy President was away in Tanzania attending a heads of state summit on Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union.
“We want to finish ethnic political mobilisation. Those who still believe in that should know this country is not their place. We want politics of development, unity and peace,” said Mr Duale.
URP chairman Barre Shill said the merger was historic and that the era of tribal outfits was gone.
Enthusiasm electrified the air in Kasarani as the delegates dissolved the party.
Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said the country would be better off with bigger national parties than small ones based in villages.
“Normally the opposition parties merge in an attempt to defeat the ruling party but here it is the opposite. The ruling party is becoming stronger and stronger,” said Narok Governor Samuel Tunai.
Besides JAP, TNA and URP, the other parties that dissolved were the Alliance Party of Kenya (APK), led by Kiraitu Murungi; New Ford Kenya, led by Ken Lusaka; the Grand National Union (GNU); the United Democratic Forum (UDF); Ford People; Party of National Unity (PNU); The Independent Party (TIP); United Party of Kenya (UPK); and the Republican Congress Party.
Today, all the delegates will join their counterparts from the other parties at the Kasarani Stadium to officially proclaim the Jubilee Party.
The meeting will be addressed by Mr Ruto, the designated deputy party leader.
On Saturday, President Kenyatta will launch the party, name its officials and unveil its party structure, symbol, slogan and colours.
Security was tight at the two venues from the time delegates started streaming in at 7am.
JAP vice-chairman David Murathe said the delegates chose to rename their party to avoid the legal consequences that would have delayed their political activities were a new party to be registered to accommodate those that have dissolved.
“To form this new party, we agreed to use an already existing party, which is JAP, and merge with other parties so that we could have Jubilee Party,” he said.
In separate halls at Kasarani, Ford People, GNU, PNU and TIP dissolved and agreed to merge to form the Jubilee Party.
Ford-P chairman Albert Nyaundi likened the parties that were dissolving to a piece of sweet in the hands of a child.
“If you hold on to the sweet, it will melt in your hands. We want to go to Jubilee because it is the right thing to do,” he said.
GNU leader Nderitu Gachagua said Jubilee was the only party that would allow minority communities to lead in the future.
“Now all you need to do is belong to Jubilee and be popular and people will vote you in,” said the Nyeri governor.
At the Bomas of Kenya auditorium, New Ford-K delegates welcomed Turkana Senator John Munyes and opposition MPs John Waluke (Sirisia), Isaac Mwaura (nominated), Nicholas Ngikor (Turkana East), Protus Akuja (Loima) and Stephen Kariuki (Mathare) as Water Cabinet Secretary led the party in dissolving to join the Jubilee Party.
“I am pleased that the party has taken the right direction. There is a lot of excitement. Munyes’ defection shows that people are gaining direction.
"Not only in regions but also within parties. The momentum that Jubilee is gaining, going by the events of today, is very promising,” said Mr Wamalwa.
In the same hall in the afternoon, Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi led APK delegates in folding their party, saying it was the happiest moment since he founded it.
“I’m happy because I’ve been a good bus driver. No passenger has been hurt or the bus damaged, thank God,” he remarked, referring to the party's slogan, "The Bus".
Mr Murungi said there were no Jubilee Party officials except the President and his deputy.
“We agreed that among ourselves because there is no one within the party who does not support President Uhuru and his deputy William Ruto,” said Mr Murungi.
Reported by Jeremiah Kiplangat, Stella Cherono, Brian Moseti and Patrick Langat