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Unease in Ruto camp over Raila merger talk

Sunday May 5 2019

Jubilee Party

Nominated MP Maina Kamanda addresses a burial ceremony in Nyeri on September 8, 2017. He argued that an alliance between Jubilee Party and ODM is necessary for the country's development. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

VITALIS KIMUTAI
By VITALIS KIMUTAI
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Deputy President William Ruto’s camp has been jolted by the proposal by a group of Jubilee MPs to craft a coalition between Jubilee and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) parties ahead of the 2022 general election.

The proposal puts Mr Ruto in an awkward position as it comes two months after he ruled out a merger between the two parties “now or in the future as the two parties’ manifestos and democratic principles are poles apart.”

COALITIONS

It also comes as a section of MPs questioned the failure by President Kenyatta to convene a Parliamentary Group meeting since the last general election in what has made MPs read from different scripts on national issues.

Nominated MP Maina Kamanda, Gatanga MP Nduati Ngugi and former MP Kabando wa Kabando have hinted that a merger ahead of 2022 which would politically bring together President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga in what is seen as a further isolation of the DP.

Though a section of MPs allied to Mr Ruto have poured cold water on the ODM-Jubilee coalition proposal in what points at another impending fall out in the party, they insist that they would not bolt out of the party should the merger be pushed through, but would remain and fight from within.

Kipkelion West MP Hillary Koskei and his Belgut counterpart Mr Nelson Koech said allies of the DP and his supporters would not leave Jubilee despite a clear indication of a fall-out in the party ahead of the next election.

“We are a key plank in Jubilee having folded the United Republican Party (URP) alongside The National Alliance (TNA) party and others to form a coalition with a clear development agenda and succession plan which we have no intention of abandoning,” said Mr Koech.

Mr Koskei is of the opinion that the discourse on coalitions and the divergent views held by the Jubilee members and the leaders was a clear indication democratic space had been widened in the party.

“For those aspiring to succeed President Kenyatta at State House in the 2022 poll, you should have known by now that the train left the station and we are waiting for it to dock with the DP as the pilot and there is no looking back,” said Laikipia Women Representative Catherine Waruguru.

IRRELEVANT

It is a position shared by Isiolo Woman Representative Ms Rehema Jaldesa who vowed that pastoralist communities would stick with Mr Ruto in the political arena to ensure he succeeds Mr Kenyatta and that a coalition with Mr Odinga was not in the cards.

What emerges clearly is that the DP’s allies are not ready to engage in a coalition with Mr Odinga owing to their previous experience with him and the fall-out in ODM ahead of the formation of URP and subsequently Jubilee.

“Mr Odinga is a hypocrite who only thrives on crisis but has nothing tangible to offer the country,” said Bomet MP Mr Ronald Tonui.

Mr Tonui said Dr Ruto did not need an endorsement from the country’s political bigwigs to ascend to the presidency as he had the support of the masses.

“In Jubilee, we have a clear leadership and reporting structures with the President and his deputy at the apex. We will abide by what the President directs us to do ahead of the next general election with regard to issues of associating with other parties,” said the Bureti MP, Mr Japeth Mutai.

The MPs also fear being irrelevant in a new outfit: “Entering into a coalition with ODM would result in the natural but unfortunate death of Jubilee party and would negate the economic achievements realized under President Kenyatta’s leadership,” said Mr Ainamoi MP Sylvanus Maritim.

The DP and Mr Odinga are former allies now turned foes and have been at loggerheads on various issues ranging from politics, economic affairs, development and the proposed constitutional review.

President Kenyatta’s handshake with Mr Odinga a year ago has stocked the embers of division between the two leaders and fall out in Jubilee party.