The formation of the Jubilee Alliance Party was driven by the need to give Deputy President William Ruto an opportunity to smoothly succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2022.
Interviews with leaders in the ruling Jubilee coalition revealed this and other intrigues and arguments behind the full-throttled move to form JAP which brings together Mr Kenyatta’s TNA and Mr Ruto’s URP.
Politicians and party officials who spoke to Saturday Nation on Friday, intimated that whereas Mr Ruto’s primary constituency in Rift Valley was unequivocal in its support for Mr Kenyatta in the last election and even in the next, they were unsure of complete reciprocity when the DP’s turn comes.
“We were hearing murmurs and grumbling from these quarters. We reckoned that for it to be ingrained amongst our supporters that this is our candidate after 2017, he must be in the same party as the President,” a source in the think tank said.
On his part, JAP vice chairman David Murathe said the new party would make it easier to campaign for Mr Ruto in Mr Kenyatta’s Mt Kenya backyard in 2022. “If you put people in one basket, you are guaranteeing the DP votes in 2022,” said the former Gatanga MP.
The Kalenjin and the Kikuyu peoples were in opposing camps in the 2007 elections.
Some officials fear that while they came together in the 2013 election when both leaders were facing charges before the International Criminal Court, they are unsure of a repeat of the same in future elections, now that President Kenyatta is off the hook.
WILL END ZONING
President Kenyatta controlled the Mt Kenya region as Mr Ruto’s party delivered votes from the Rift Valley and pastoralists outside the region.
The partners have, however, jostled for control of the Maasai people with some MPs seeking to declare the area a TNA stronghold.
“The issue of zoning will be over. There will be no problem for us to go to Samburu, Maasai or Turkana,” President Kenyatta’s confidant, Mr Murathe, said on phone.
Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said a single party will end zoning and unite TNA and URP supporters.
“We want to avoid bickering and internal friction by having one vehicle. The formation of JAP was motivated by the need to ensure that the unity so far achieved in the Jubilee Coalition is consolidated,” Mr Murkomen said.
He said Jubilee members believe in the Presidency of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto and that there was no need for them to ask questions before joining the new party.
The two leaders said President Kenyatta and his deputy agreed “a long time ago” to merge their parties and were only waiting for the right time to unveil the new outfit.
The plan, however, was confined to their close confidants with MPs being left out of the developments to avoid “politicisation” of the matter.
“JAP was a long time project but we seized the opportunity in Kajiado to fast-track the party,” said TNA chairman Johnson Sakaja.
URP secretary-general Fred Muteti said the Naivasha meeting, which was attended by President Kenyatta, resolved to allow each of the affiliate parties to hold internal consultations with their members to convince them to accept the proposed merger.
However, Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto has opposed the merger of TNA and URP. Mr Ruto, who is also the chairman of the Council of Governors said the idea was imposed.
“There is no way some people can lock themselves in a room and decide on what political party should be our umbrella for the 2017 General Election,” he said.
Meru’s governor Peter Munya has also opposed the merger, saying it would amount to a return of the one-party system. Mukurwe-ini MP Kabando wa Kabando said election pacts should never be about individuals.
“It should be about small parties angling for inclusion into ruling parties, not a conglomeration of ethnic fiefdoms which can only help to entrench divisions,” he said.