Ruto allies in plan to skip President’s meeting with MPs
Eric Wainaina @EWainaina
The rift in the governing Jubilee Party could widen further after MPs allied to Deputy President William Ruto vowed to boycott a Parliamentary Group meeting convened by President Uhuru Kenyatta today.
During the meeting, which will take place at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), the President is expected to seal the third purge against Ruto sympathisers who are expected to be replaced in key House committee leadership positions.
The disclosure came as People Daily established that Ruto’s allies are working on launching Jubilee Asili Party, a new vehicle which he is likely to use in his 2022 presidential race, with the increasing possibility that he could be denied the Jubilee Party ticket.
We also established that Ruto’s allies have leased three premises in Nairobi’s Karen, Runda and Ngong Road, with the latter being the venue where he hosted 16 MPs allied to him last Thursday.
According to credible sources, the three offices host Jubilee Asili’s secretariat and a think-tank of political advisers who are geared to shape Ruto’s presidential campaigns.
“The offices are fully operational and that is where we will be holding our meetings. We are on top of things on the preparations of the DP’s 2022 candidature and we will be rolling out the party very soon.
We have no business attending a PG of a party that is slaughtering its people,” said an MP from Rift Valley who declined to be named.
MPs who spoke to People Daily said they would skip today’s meeting because the notice was short and they have “other commitments.”
While some said they were unhappy with the ruthless purge targeting Ruto’s supporters, others indicated they were concerned that the forum could turn into another dress down like happened during the June 2 meeting. At the State House meeting, Navakholo MP Emmanuel Wangwe replaced Mumias East’s Benjamin Washiali as Chief Whip while Igembe North’s Maoka Maore took the place of Cecily Mbarire (Nominated) as Deputy Whip.
MPs received an invitation to attend the KICC meeting through text messages undersigned by Uhuru.
And even as the MPs maintained they will not attend today’s session, sources disclosed that Leader of Majority Aden Duale could survive the purge.
It is understood that lobbying that started on Saturday night by Duale and his sympathisers could save him from ouster.
Yesterday, Wangwe cautioned members against boycotting the meeting where the possible replacement of Duale and appointment of new people to other House leadership posts are expected to be the agenda.
Soy MP Caleb Kositany, the Jubilee party deputy secretary general and Ruto’s de facto spokesman, confirmed he will not attend the PG, saying he was “busy attending to other matters.”
“First of all the invite came late, secondly I know only of Jubilee Party and not Jubilee Coalition and, therefore, I will not be attending,” he said.
His Belgut counterpart Nelson Koech, also an ardent supporter of the DP, said though he was in Nairobi, he does not plan to attend the meeting because “just like the previous ones” it is tailored towards “slaughtering” his colleagues whose mistakes he said was associating with the Deputy President.
According to Koech, from his interactions with Wangwe, the agenda of the meeting is to remove Duale and replace chairmen and vice chairmen of House committees who were removed last week, a process he was not willing to participate in.
“I cannot participate in a process of slaughtering individuals that are allied to the Deputy President. Tomorrow’s (today) meeting is to remove Duale and replace House committee members.
Why would I want to participate in slaughtering of members whose only sin is being seen to associate with Ruto?” he posed.
Ordinarily, according to another MP allied to the DP, whenever such meetings are convened, Ruto always instructs them to attend but in the current case he has been ambivalent, an indication that he has left it to his troops to decide on their own.
It remains to be interesting to see whether Ruto will be present during today’s meeting.
Aldai MP Cornely Serem, who was last week removed from the position of vice chairman of the Trade committee, said he would not be participating in the meeting.
Serem said that apart from being one of the people who will be affected in the decision that will be taken, he feels that they will not be allowed to speak.
“The agenda of the meeting is to chase Duale and replace heads of House committees. Can I really sit in a meeting where I am being slaughtered?” Serem posed.
But Wangwe warned that disciplinary action would be taken against those that will not attend, with a source privy to the President’s thinking, saying “he will not take apologies kindly”.
“I have not heard whether they (DP allies) have taken a position not to attend. But should someone decide to skip, definitely there will be consequences,” said Wangwe, the Navakholo MP.
Kieni MP Kanini Kega, who confirmed that he will attend the meeting warned that anyone propagating the ideals of another party should be ready to face consequences of their actions
“I will be attending the meeting. We support whatever the President says. Those who do not know the consequences,” he said.
Nyeri Town MP Kimani Ngunjiri said Duale’s fate will be decided by Uhuru.
“If all the Jubilee MPs want Duale to stay but the President does not, he will not survive. It also means that even if all the MPs do not believe in him, but the President does, he will survive,” read a post on his facebook page.
Jubilee secretary general Raphael Tuju was not available for comment but he is on record warning that failing to attend a PG, was an act of “indiscipline and disobedience to the party and its leadership”.
Tuju has already instituted disciplinary hearings against senators who skipped last month’s PG that paved the way for the removal of Kipchumba Murkomen as Senate Majority Leader and Whip Susan Kihika. The two are allies of the DP.
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa yesterday said he will not attend the meeting because he has other “serious commitments” while his Gatundu South counterpart Moses Kuria disparaged the meeting on his Facebook page.
During the June 2 meeting, a tough talking Uhuru, according to several MPs who attended the meeting, warned his critics not to take his silence for weakness.
And last week, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi notified the House that the Jubilee Party had discharged 16 of its MPs from select committees with their replacement scheduled to take place today.
Those de-whipped include Haji Adan (Agriculture) committee, Kimani Ichung’wa (Budget and Appropriations), Gladys Shollei, (Delegated Legislation), William Cheptumo (Justice and Legal Affairs) and Victor Munyaka (Sports).
Others are John Waluke, who was the vice chair of the Security committee, Fred Kapondi (Constitutional Implementation Oversight), Robert Pukose (Energy), Alice Wahome (Justice), Korir (Labour), Khatib Mwashetani (Lands), Catherine Waruguru (Members’ Services and Facilities).
Others are James Lomenen, from the Select National Cohesion, Liza Chepkorir Chelule (Broadcasting), Moses Kuria (Roads) and Serem.