Major cull looms as Jubilee party feud escalates

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020 00:00 |
Jubilee Party Deputy Secretary General Caleb Kositany, the Ruto faction voice of reason, addresses a past meeting. He has rubbished the move to remove some of the party MPs and Senators from positions in Parliament. Photo/PD/JOHN OCHIENG

The war in Jubilee Party is headed to Parliament where President Uhuru Kenyatta’s key supporters are said to be plotting a major purge of his deputy William Ruto’s allies from influential House posts, a move that could further widen the rift in the governing party.

Those targeted for removal in the two Houses, according to liable sources, include National Assembly majority leader Aden Duale and his Senate counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen, whose activities have been deemed as undermining the party leadership.

The others are National Assembly Majority Whip Ben Washiali, Senate Majority Whip Susan Kihika, National Assembly Budget Committee chairman Kimani Ichung’wa and Gladys Shollei, who chairs the Committee on Delegated Legislation.

They are all perceived to be the faces of defiance in Jubilee Party in favour of the Deputy President.

Washiali, a close ally of the DP, said yesterday he had heard about the plot and indicating that he had no problem as long as the party followed due process.

“That wind has been there. For me I don’t have a problem if the proper procedure is followed. 

That is if there is a well-organised party National Executive Committee (NEC) or a Parliamentary Group meeting where we will be told what the grievances against us are.

Not a few people holding a meeting in a corner to make decisions,” Washiali told the People Daily.

Jubilee Party deputy secretary general and Soy MP Caleb Kositany, also said he was privy to the removal plans which he, however, warned would not be easy to effect.

The vocal MP also cautioned that Ruto’s allies would paralayse activities in Parliament if they feel aggrieved. 

Washiali said he had worked hard to earn the post, adding that the House leadership had never failed the President’s agenda in Parliament.

But should the plan go through, Washiali, who is among those who has been plotting to take over the party’s control in favour of the DP, said: “we will parade the people behind it in the court of public opinion when the right time comes”.

The plot to curtail Ruto’s influence in Parliament comes even as the DP appeared to have lost his attempts to maintain grip in the Jubilee Party after secretary general Raphael Tuju published names of new members of the National Management Committee (NMC), although his supporters have launched a vicious fight-back.

An MP, who did not want to be quoted but who is well versed with the scheme, said the general feeling among the President’s supporters is that the party leaders in the two Houses were working against the government and the delay in the changes was because their replacements were being sought.  

Yesterday, both Duale and Murkomen declined to be drawn into the matter, with the former terming the alleged plot “impossible” while the senator said he was not interested in the debate.

“It is very difficult to change the leadership of the House. There is nothing like that in the National Assembly or even the Senate,” Duale, an ardent supporter of the DP told People Daily in a telephone interview.

Contacted, Tuju said the party had not discussed such a plot but said the continued talk by the DP’s allies on a purge, was an acknowledgement that they are “indisciplined and therefore warranting removal”.

“That talk of their removal has been on for the past two years but as a party we have never had such a discussion.

If they are saying that some sections of the party want them removed for indiscipline, are they suggesting that they are indisciplined and therefore liable for removal?” posed Tuju.

Murkomen, who has been accused of openly defying calls by the President to end early campaigns as well as opposing the Building Bridges Initiative and the fight against corruption, did not confirm or dismiss the purge, only saying: “My focus is on issues affecting the people”.

“At the moment millions of hustlers’ jobs have been lost due to Covid-19. The economy is a shambles and the future is gloomy due to this pandemic. My focus now is the people, not myself.

Only fools can concentrate on politics at this defining moment in history. So it’s simple, I am not interested in that debate. If they go low we go high,” Murkomen said. 

But sources said a top parliamentary leader who is among those targeted had persuaded the President to shelve the planned changes to allow concentration on the Budget making process.

The House leaders enjoy considerable influence and perks which include at least two official cars, offices with up to five members of staff, as well as enhanced security which the two will lose if impeached.

Already the targeted leaders are plotting a fight-back, which could include paralysing House activities as well as mobilising their supporters to overturn the purge.

While Duale has been careful in support of the President, he has been instrumental in behind-the-scenes activities in support of the DP’s open defiance of his boss, effectively alienating some party MPs who are opposed to Ruto’s ambitions.

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