DEPUTY Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi is free to quit the Jubilee coalition, his erstwhile partner Eldoret North MP William Ruto said yesterday.
Ruto's URP party and Uhuru Kenyatta's TNA cannot "hold a gun" to Mudavadi's head to force him to remain in the troubled Jubilee coalition, said the pugnacious politician from Rift Valley.
TNA this week wrote to the Registrar of Political Parties informing her that the deal signed with Mudavadi's UDF on December 4 was not legally binding as it had not been ratified by the party's delegates.
The TNA petition seeks to immediately terminate the coalition with UDF without waiting for the three-month notice period stipulated by the law.
To further complicate the situation, Mudavadi's party has issued a four-day ultimatum to TNA and URP -- implement the agreement in which Uhuru steps down as presidential candidate in favour of Mudavadi, or UDF quits the coalition.
Mudavadi's party also wants to amend the exit clause that requires him to give three months notice. Speaking during Citizen TV's Cheche morning talk show, Ruto insisted that Mudavadi should abide by the coalition agreement signed between URP, TNA and agreement signed between URP, TNA and UDF and which was deposited with the Registrar of Political Parties on the afternoon of December 4.
According to Ruto, this agreement stipulated that the presidential candidate would be picked through a nomination process.
"The coalition document was very clear on how the presidential flag bearer is to be nominated. It says there will be a nomination process that will guide the whole process, and I think that is what is going to guide us now. We are doing nothing new other than what we deposited at the Registrar of Political parties," Ruto said.
According to the agreement, Ruto will be the running mate of whoever is the presidential candidate. Whoever loses the presidential nomination would have the choice of becoming Leader of the Majority in Parliament or Speaker of the Senate.
However on the morning of December 4, Mudavadi had signed a memorandum of understanding with Ruto and Uhuru where it was agreed that he would be the Jubilee presidential candidate.
On Tuesday, Mudavadi claimed he had been betrayed by Uhuru and Ruto over the method for choosing the coalition's presidential candidate.
Uhuru admitted signing the MoU but said he was forced to do so "by dark forces," widely believed to refer to State House and the NSIS.
TNA delegates and MPs have rejected the deal with Mudavadi and insisted that the delegates pick the coalition presidential candidate.
"We are not doing anything that is outside the original agreement," Ruto said yesterday. "It is clear that the agreement was between URP and TNA, we will share the positions on a 50-50 basis and all of us will have equal say in the running of the coalition government. Others will have to be incooperated through other means," Ruto said yesterday.
He said that Mudavadi should negotiate with Uhuru on how to share TNA's 50 percent. Mudavadi and his team said that their agreement with TNA and URP was that UDF would get 25 percent of government positions and the presidency, Ruto would get 33 percent and Uhuru's TNA gets 41 percent of positions. One per cent was reserved for other 'friendly' parties.
Ruto said that the Jubilee coalition would consider working with the Chinese government if they win the election and Western countries do not want to work with Kenya.
Uhuru and Ruto are facing charges ofcrimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court. Their trials start on April 10 and 11 respectively while the likely second round run-off of the election will be on April 11.
"It is only Kenyans who will decide if we are fit to hold the office, not The Hague. If they will vote for us, then it shows that they have faith in us. Let me tell you, that we will manage to run this country regardless of the Hague process. Uhuru can attend the court proceedings while I am running the government and when it is my turn, Uhuru will be in control," he said.
"The court does not operate in space but in real world, we are capable of running the country even at The Hague," he said.
The Registrar of Political Parties Lucy Ndung'u yesterday confirmed receiving the letter from TNA requesting the removal of the clause including Mudavadi's UDF in their coalition.
"There is a letter we have received but our legal officers are going through it before we can respond to them," Ndung'u told The Star yesterday.
The Jubilee Coalition had earlier requested the registrar for a seven-day extension of the nomination period for its presidential candidate to December 24.
A lawyer in the technical committee said that amending the exit clause in the coalition agreement would make it easier for Mudavadi to leave. However he said that TNA, URP and UDF were still committed to finding a solution to the impasse inside Jubilee.
The December 4 coalition agreement states, "It may determine that the Agreement is irreparably frustrated, in which case the aggrieved Party shall be at liberty to withdraw from the Coalition upon service of a three (3) months written notice."