A section of Jubilee Party senators and MPs from the Rift Valley — Deputy President William Ruto’s political bastion — are divided over the ruling party’s purge, which has seen some of the DP’s key allies kicked out of plum leadership positions.
Five of the seven Senators who voted against the axing of Kithure Kindiki as Senate Deputy Speaker face a political onslaught from lawmakers perceived to be leaning towards President Uhuru Kenyatta as the 2022 succession politics take centre stage.
The senators, Senate Education Committee Chairperson Christopher Lang’at (Bomet), Senate Public Service Commissioner Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho), Senate Committee Legal and Human Rights Chairperson Samson Cherargey (Nandi), and Senate Devolution Committee Chairperson John Kinyua (Laikipia) face a purge over their stand on Friday, opposing the removal of Senator Kindiki.
The move has opened a supremacy battle between the senators and MPs from the region, who have been perceived as being against Dr Ruto’s 2022 State House bid.
Jubilee legislators Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills), Sila Tiren (Moiben) and Joshua Kutuny (Cherang’any) have been critical of the DP’s camp, accusing members of fronting selfish interests at the expense of the community.
Mr Kutuny on Sunday told the Nation that Prof Kindiki’s removal has proven that the region has two factions, one championing the DP’s interests while the other works with the government to improve the socio-economic status of their people.
He hinted that the team led by Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet) and Susan Kihika (Nakuru) would quit Jubilee before the 2022 general election to form their party.
“It’s now evident that there are two groups of Jubilee Party in Rift Valley after the Friday incident. Those who voted against the party decision during the removal of Senator Kindiki are not committed to the party, and it shows that they are out to please their master, not like us who are after championing the people-driven agenda,” said MP Kutuny.
The lawmakers said that those who are not for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s agenda of uniting the country should face disciplinary action.
“Wisdom dictates that you don’t contradict the party leader, who gave you that position. You have to portray responsibility in your position,” said Mr Keter.
The Nandi Hills MP alleged that most leaders in DP’s camp are pursuing selfish interests at the expense of fighting for the welfare of the people, including farmers.
The DP’s team has been facing an uphill task in uniting the region, with leaders critical of Dr Ruto accusing them of treating them with disdain and failure to appreciate their positions and the influence they wield in the region.
Elgeyo-Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos early this year said the DP’s 2022 presidential bid was doomed to fail if he continued associating himself with leaders who were “chest-thumping”.
“The calibre of leaders the DP associates himself will kill his State House bid. The likes of Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi and the Uasin Gishu woman representative are not people who can advise a leader to make it politically. If he’s serious about succeeding President Kenyatta, he should start looking for shrewd advisers,” Mr Tolgos told the Nation in an interview.
But Mr Cherargey said he was not party to the changes that he described as “illegal and immoral”, adding that if the removal of the DP’s allies from key posts would make the President work for Kenyans, he was not ready to work with him.
“What’s taking place is political conmanship. If indeed it is about achieving the Big Four Agenda, then the President should just fire all of us and continue with building the economy as it is being claimed. This is 2022 succession politics being played out. They’re after blocking the DP’s bid, but we’re keenly monitoring them,” he said.
“The agenda of the Handshake has always been to destroy Dr Ruto politically, but trust me, Kenyans will vote for him now that dynasties have ganged up against him. No one can stop DP Ruto from ascending to power,” he said.
Senators from the region, who supported the removal of Prof Kindiki, include Prof Margaret Kamar (Uasin Gishu), Mr Michael Mbito (Trans Nzoia) and nominated Senator Alice Milgo from Bomet.