Jubilee Party Vice Chairman David Murathe has vowed to do anything to stop deputy President William Ruto from succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2022.
And this include moving to the Supreme Court if need be. The latest onslaught is bound to rock the Jubilee boat even further.
“Nobody can be deputy president for more than two terms. Why does it (Constitution) say that? Because another article also says nobody can be president for more than two terms. And if the President is not there, who becomes the President? His deputy,” said Mr Murathe, citing the law on the roles of the Deputy President and how they are elected.
Mr Murathe, who first raised a storm late last year by claiming there was no pact in Jubilee to guarantee the Deputy President becomes automatic candidate, seemed to be on the same mission here, buoyed by his new audience in an area he wouldn’t be addressing before the handshake.
“And if it is a crime to support the handshake, we are guilty as charged,” he had first told an excited audience attending the burial of Kefa Tuju, a younger brother of Jubilee Party secretary General Raphael Tuju in Rarieda, Siaya County.
In attendance included Siaya Deputy Governor James Okumbe, Mr Mbadi, Senator James Orengo as well as MPs Otiende Amollo (Rarieda), Gideon Ochanda (Bondo) and Mr Elisha Odhiambo (Gem).
“Can the President sack his deputy? No. So, if he (DP) automatically becomes the President (in case the president is incapacitated), without going for the mandate of the people, what mandate does he have? It is the one he was elected with the President.”
“And we are not joking, we will go to the supreme court. All I can tell you is that, at least now people have started to sober up. We have heard them say they don’t mind nominations. There is no chest-thumping.”
At the same time, Mr Murathe dangled a proposal to the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) asking its chairman Mr John Mbadi, to join Jubilee to form the Jubilee National Coalition ahead of 2022.
The statement also came at a time that Mr Mbadi and Senate Minority leader Mr James Orengo maintained that opposition chief Mr Raila Odinga will seek the presidency in the next General Election.
Mr Murathe’s comments have elicited angry responses from the DP’s allies, who accused him of fomenting ethnic divisions or simply sabotaging ambitions of Dr Ruto. Some of the leaders in Jubilee have insisted the party should hold elections for their officials, so those who speak for it speak only on matters agreed upon by the relevant organs.
Mr Murathe says there are legal implications in Ruto's candidature. He argues the Presidency is composed of two holders; President and Deputy, and that they should all be retired after two terms in office.
Though no one can serve as DP for more than two terms, the law doesn’t bar such people from ascending to presidency. Still, the DP can ascend to office in the case the President is incapacitated.
Mr Murathe stated that should Mr Odinga not contest, Mr Orengo should take the mantle saying he has a national appeal.
But Mr Orengo told the gathering he has faith in Mr Odinga as the best bet for presidency.
“There are many people who do not want me to talk about this, but I will always say it, Mr Odinga is the best person to be the president as he understands devolution and issues facing Kenyans best. This is his time,” said Mr Orengo.
He added that Kenya was on the path of change and that nobody can stand in the wave of that change.
Mr Mbadi said Luo Nyanza should this time channel all their prayers to Mr Odinga for him to clinch the top seat.
“Unlike the past when they usually prepare one very early, as you can see Central have no preferred candidate. This is our chance, Mr Odinga has never been close to power like he is this time round, lets support him,” said Mr Mbadi.
Mr Tuju, however, indicated nobody knows if he or she will be alive in 2022, and therefore politicians should refrain from the talk.
"I had plans to spend Christmas at home and maybe New Year with my beautiful young wife but now am here mourning my brother. I am still wondering why people are obsessed and pre-occupied with 2022, yet no one knows if he will be there then," said Mr Tuju.
He indicated at the funeral that Murathe's statements were his personal views and not the party's.
Former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth pledged his support for the handshake, maintaining this is the path all leaders should support and follow.
"Let us stop these sideshows of 2022 and instead focus on developing our country," said Mr Kenneth.