National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale has kept unusually quiet even when it seemed the party he leads in Parliament, Jubilee, seemed to be on the brink of imploding due to infighting between the perceived allies of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto (DP).
However, on Friday, the Garissa Township MP broke his silence in an interview with the Sunday Nation in which he assured that all is well between the President and his deputy.
A close ally of Dr Ruto, Mr Duale called for disciplinary action to be taken against Jubilee MPs who are deemed to have disrespected the President through their utterances.
He also talked about the alleged memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the President and Dr Ruto as well as his views about the peace deal between the President and political foe-turned-friend, Raila Odinga.
Below are excerpts from the interview:
Sunday Nation: Some Jubilee MPs have accused the President of neglecting Mt Kenya region in terms of development, yet the region overwhelmingly voted for him in the last two general elections. Do you think their statements are fair?
Duale: Uhuru Kenyatta was elected by Jubilee supporters who gave us over eight million votes.
Mt Kenya region, followed by the Rift Valley, contributed the highest number of voters.
But when he was sworn in, he became the president of all Kenyans, and will abide by the constitution of the republic and not the Jubilee constitution.
He will develop equally all parts of the country through equitable distribution of resources.
Moses Kuria (Gatundu South MP) and his cohorts are out of order and their statements are full of ethnic bigotry.
President Kenyatta, as a symbol of national unity, cannot be reduced to an ethnic or regional leader.
Sunday Nation: Can you name some of the main projects that have been started in North Eastern region where you come from?
Duale: It is the first time, and only under the Jubilee administration, that serious infrastructure investment has been felt even as a far as northern Kenya.
Several projects have been completed or are near completion, such as the national grid electricity connectivity to Garissa, the Isiolo-Loyangalani highway, the 54 megawatt solar project in Garissa and the Numow-Modogashe-Wajir highway, which is under construction.
Sunday Nation: Is there an MOU between the President and Dr Ruto regarding 2022 general elections?
Duale: The President and Dr Ruto were paired candidates in 2013 and 2017 general elections. To the best of my knowledge, there is no written MOU between them as regards 2022 general elections.
Furthermore, there are no political debts owed to anyone. But the Jubilee rank and file in all our strongholds are happy with the development record of the President and his deputy.
And, when the time comes, we shall present the candidature of the DP, through the party's nomination process, to the people of Kenya.
Delivery of our manifesto and the Big Four Agenda will be our selling point.
Sunday Nation: But do you think that the President is still keen on supporting his deputy’s presidential ambitions?
Duale: The party structures and constitution are very clear on the 2022 general elections.
All of us, right from the presidential candidate to Members of County Assembly, will undergo free, fair and transparent nominations.
The same applied to our presidential candidate in 2017 general elections.
Therefore, Dr Ruto must prepare to face off with anyone else who will vie for the party's nomination for the presidential race.
Sunday Nation: How have the ongoing wrangles within the party affected the relationship between the President and the DP?
Duale: Personally, I have worked with the President and Dr Ruto for over 15 years now. As a close confidant to both, I can assure you that all is well in our party.
What we are seeing is just divergent political opinion that is common in Kenyan politics. There is no reason for panic.
Sunday Nation:Some Jubilee Party followers have blamed the March 9, 2018 handshake between the President and Mr Odinga for the wrangles rocking the party. How true is this?
Duale: The handshake between the President and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga is the beginning of building a peaceful and stable Kenya.
All of us in Jubilee, from Dr Ruto down to MCAs and to our grassroots supporters, have embraced the handshake.
In Jubilee we only have one leader — the President. And beginning with the DP to our MCAs, we implement the directions and policies given to us by our party leader.
Sunday Nation: Some observers say that Parliament will be the next field of action between the two factions in Jubilee. How will this affect your ability to successfully push the government agenda in the National Assembly?
Duale: When Parliament resumes in February, as has been the case, my duty is to make sure the government agenda sails through and as in the past years, Parliament, through our party and the minority party, will put aside the political noises and seek to deliver on our mandate.
I urge every leader in Jubilee to forget the sideshows and support the President to fulfil the 'Big Four Agenda', the fight against corruption and embrace the handshake for Kenya to be united and be a cohesive society.
Sunday Nation:Are you planning on taking any action against the Jubilee MPs who are thought to have disrespected the President in their statements recently?
Duale: Jubilee is a national party and we allow freedom of expression and opinions to be exercised by our members.
But irresponsible utterances by Moses Kuria, David Murathe (former Jubilee vice chairman) and Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati MP) disparaging our leadership will not be entertained.
As a member of the Jubilee National Executive Council, and the official spokesperson of the party in Parliament, we will pursue necessary disciplinary actions against them in line with our constitution.
Sunday Nation:Is the party planning on going for a retreat to iron out the issues that have brought about the recent divisions?
Duale: The party is intact and on course. As of now we have no such plans for a party retreat, but if the party leader asks for one, then the top leadership of Jubilee is ready to marshal our rank and file to attend.
Jubilee was formed after 14 parties with tribal and regional backing folded to form one unified party.