The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Keter, Rutto Wrangles Delay URP Registration

A fight over conflicting list of party officials has delayed the registration application by the United Republican Party associated with Eldoret North MP William Ruto.

Two Ruto allies-Çhepalungu MP Isaac Rutto and his Belgut counterpart Charles Keter- have for the last few weeks been at loggerheads over the composition of the party's officials.

The intense undercurrents spilled out into the open on Thursday when Rutto accused Keter of excluding his people from the final list of officials which was to be presented to the Registrar of Political Parties.

Ruto complained that majority of the people listed as officials were related to Keter or were his close allies. Ruto accused Keter of deliberately omitting from the list, the names of people he had submitted.

Sources present said there was an 'altercation' as the two men bitterly traded accusations. Unable to reach a compromise, Rutto walked out of the registrar's office leaving a fuming Rutto.

The wrangles between Rutto and Keter are similar to those that led Ruto to ditch the United Democratic Movement for URP. Then as now, party officials incessantly fought over who were the bona fide officials and had the authority to call or hold meetings. The unending rivalry saw Ruto ditch UDM which was then widely speculated to be his vehicle of choice for the presidential race to URP.

A party official claimed that some of the party's original office bearers were allegedly demanding US$2 million (Sh166 million) to relinquish their hold over the party. They were also demanding that they be retained in office as deputies of all the national party posts.

Yesterday, Ruto, who is the URP party leader, held a meeting with Keter at the party headquarters in Lavington to try and resolve the wrangles. However, Rutto did not attend the meeting.

Ruto denied there were any differences between his two close allies and said reports of the altercation were 'mere rumours." He said the URP was made up of many people and not just the two MPs.

He explained the party had failed to submit its registration application because the acting Registrar of Political Parties, Lucy Ndung'u' was absent from office on Thursday. "Ndungu was out of office on Thursday and there is no way URP could have presented its papers in her absence," said Ruto. Rutto denied claims that there were any differences between him and Keter.

Rutto denied claims that they nearly fought with Belgut MP Charles Keter. "We are great friends and I have married from Keter's people. He is a close relative of mine and friend of mine," Rutto said and dismissed reports of any altercation between the two as 'rumours being peddled by malicious people."

Keter also denied there was any friction between him and Rutto and was confident that the party would comply with all the requirements of the Political Parties Act by Monday next week.

"Issac has his own things. I was concentrating on compliance so count me out of any fight. I cannot fight. My history is clear. I don't have any issue with him. He comes from one county and l come from another. Those claiming there are differences between us are the people who are trying to fight us. If there was any problem people would have known by now!," said Keter.

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