A political storm has erupted in Jubilee following Wednesday's pronouncement by party vice-chairman David Murathe on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession in 2022.
Mr Murathe, also a close ally of the President, in a bare-knuckle attack on Deputy President William Ruto, told him the Mount Kenya region had no Memorandum of Understanding with anybody regarding the Presidential elections.
Mr Murathe, who was accompanied by former Mukurueini MP Kabando wa Kabando, said the President and his Deputy had shared power equally for two terms and should both retire.
"If he (William Ruto) has an MoU with Uhuru Kenyatta, then that was an agreement between two individuals," said Mr Murathe in Vihiga, during the 39th annual Maragoli celebrations.
The DP’s allies have come out guns blazing and directed their anger at Mr Murathe whom they accused of making “reckless statements despite being a party official.” National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said the DP is the Jubilee deputy party leader and the only candidate for 2022 so far.
“As a member of Jubilee National Executive Council, that's David’s (Murathe) opinion, to which he is entitled but sounds reckless coming from a member of the party leadership and a close friend,” Mr Duale said.
The vocal Jubilee member said the party was built on national representation values and respect for its leadership.
“The DP will campaign on the platform of development. I thought David was one of the leaders opposed to premature campaigns,” Mr Duale said.
Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen dismissed Mr Murathe, saying: “Like Winston Churchill said, you will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”
Jubilee deputy chief whip and Murang’a senator Irungu Kang’ata said Mr Murathe’s view was not the official party position.
“Those are his personal views. The jubilee party still supports Ruto for President and this can only be altered by Uhuru Kenyatta. Central region strongly supports Ruto over Raila or anyone else,” Mr Kang’ata said.
Jubilee deputy secretary-general Caleb Kositany said that whereas there was no express agreement on the DP’s 2022 deal, President Kenyatta had assured him of support and “only he can make a contrary statement and not Murathe.”
“I am the deputy secretary- general and we’ve not heard or taken any position so far. The DP’s opposition to a referendum — and he has been consistent on this — is based on his opposition to create positions for certain politicians in order to entrench tribalism. We support him on that.”
Elsewhere in Bomet, five MPs said DP Ruto does not need any endorsement from any politicians to succeed President Kenyatta.
Bomet Central MP Ronald Tonui, Nelson Koech of Belgut, Dominic Koskei (Sotik), Brighton Yegon (Konoin) and Kiptergech Mutai (Bureti) criticised Mr Murathe for the remarks.
“Murathe cannot purport to speak for anyone as the term for the interim Jubilee party officials ended on December 2017. He has not been elected by anyone and is therefore an imposter in the party leadership,” said Mr Tonui.
Leaders in Meru county demanded that the President denounces the statement.
MPs Gichunge Kabeabea (Tigania East), Rahim Dawood (Imenti North) and Kathuri Murungi (Imenti South) criticised Mr Murathe, and accused him of creating disunity in the party.
Kirinyaga Woman Representative Purity Ngirici said Mr Murathe has no moral authority to purport to give direction to the Kikuyu.
“Murathe was the architect of the Uhuru-Musalia unity pact in 2012. He has never been happy since Uhuru joined up with Ruto to form the Jubilee Alliance which birthed the party,” Ms Ngirici said. Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, however, said Mr Murathe has a right to express his opinion.
Additional reporting by V. Kimutai, F. Mureithi, J. Wangui, G. Marete, Alex Njeru and Grace Gitau