Kenya: Odinga Attacks Ruto Over Resistance to Peace Deal

President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre) in a show of unity with Deputy President William Ruto (left) and opposition leader Raila Odinga (file photo).

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga has dabbled in Jubilee Party wars pitting President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, saying the fights are linked to the March 2018 truce.

Mr Odinga said while on the face of it the issue is about the change of the Jubilee National Management Committee (NMC) officials, beneath it is a continuation of the opposition to his Handshake with the president.

"My handshake with the president was to unite Kenyans. Apparently, some people are still against it within Jubilee and that is the cause of the ruling party's internal wrangles," Mr Odinga said during an interview on Nam Lolwe FM radio station.

He argued: "They have their own issues in Jubilee. Some Jubilee members are not interested in issues facing Kenyans but only focused on 2022, and that is their greatest undoing."

On Monday, Mr Odinga attended a meeting hosted by trade unionist Francis Atwoli, another harsh Ruto critic.

UHURU'S CONCERN

Jubilee Vice-Chairman David Murathe, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Senate Minority Leader James Orengo and National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohamed attended the meeting.

"People can expect new formations in the future. Nothing stops us from moving on to a house bigger than Jubilee. In fact, post-coronavirus, this country probably needs a government of national unity," Mr Murathe said.

In the radio interview, Mr Odinga distanced himself from the possible coalition talks. "We did not discuss that during our meeting at Atwoli's home in Kajiado. Those are Murathe's thoughts and he has a right to express them. But we want to focus on the coronavirus pandemic at the moment and later a referendum before we chart a way forward," he said.

Meanwhile, the differences in the ruling party continue to escalate, with Secretary-General Raphael Tuju and his deputy Caleb Kositany issuing two parallel statements to newsrooms over the impasse surrounding the proposed NMC changes.

Sources within Jubilee told the Nation that President Kenyatta is disturbed by the move by some high-ranking individuals within the party, including the DP, to prosecute internal matters on social media instead of using internal party organs.

"On Tuesday night, I can tell you without fear of contradiction that the president was disturbed by the DP's tweet referring to some individuals in the party as 'gangsters and crooks'. He said these kinds of statements must come to an end to restore confidence among party members," the source revealed.

PROBLEM-SOLVING

It is on this ground, the source disclosed, that the party on Wednesday released a statement censuring its officials for the continued use of social media to address party matters.

In a veiled attack on Dr Ruto, Mr Tuju challenged leaders to follow internal channels to air their grievances.

"Some of those high-ranking individuals are on record as having always advised or insisted that internal party matters should strictly be settled using the party internal dispute resolution mechanisms," Mr Tuju said.

But in a quick rejoinder, Mr Kositany said Jubilee Party is bigger than "Mr Tuju and his masters".

"Jubilee is a political party and not a fiefdom. It is a democratic national institution and as such must be managed according to its constitution. Therefore, any decision(s), including changes of officials to any organ of the party such as the NMC, must be sanctioned by the relevant party organs," Mr Kositany wrote.

He questioned how many meetings Mr Tuju had convened so that the internal mechanisms "he now glorifies" can thrive.

"Mr Tuju, who was merely an appointee of the party on an interim basis and whose term has come to an end, cannot assume a mandate that he does not have," Mr Kositany said.

But Mr Tuju fired back: "If my term as SG expired, his (Kositany's) must have expired even earlier and he should, therefore, not refer to himself as deputy secretary-general."

ADDITIONS OBJECTED

In his statement, Mr Tuju said any differences within the party should be settled using internal dispute resolution mechanisms.

"We at the party headquarters have adhered to the policy of settling differences in the party within the party to the letter, especially in the face of very emotive submissions with respect to our National Elections Board that was accused of having been used as a rigging machine in the Mount Kenya region.

"We, therefore, wish to believe that some of the vitriol exhibited were from parody social media accounts of these very senior and respected leaders of the party, who have access to many channels of communication within the party leadership," Mr Tuju said.

Jubilee wrangles were reignited last Friday when the DP led his troops in writing protest letters to the Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu objecting to the proposed changes.

In a Gazette Notice dated April 6, Ms Nderitu lists Ms Lucy Nyawira Macharia, Prof Marete Marangu, former Kitutu Masaba MP Walter Nyambati, Ms Jane Nampaso and Mr James Waweru as proposed members to the powerful NMC.

Former Secretary-General Veronica Maina, Ms Fatuma Shukri and Ms Pamela Mutua resigned after securing jobs in government, according to Mr Tuju.

He added: "These were additions necessitated by the departure of some officials at different times in the last one year, apart from one instance where two officials were from one county. Another addition was of the current executive director who replaced the previous official who became a CAS."

CALL FOR MEETING

Belgut MP Nelson Koech said convening Parliamentary Group and National Executive Council meetings would help solve the thorny matters.

"There is need to face our problems head-on rather than run away from them because that is the only way a party can live for decades like the Communist Party of China, whose model we benchmarked while forming Jubilee Party," Mr Koech said.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei accused Mr Tuju of planning to bring down the party. "Tuju is pushing an ODM narrative and he is in bed with our enemies - merchants who want to kill Jubilee," he said.

Naivasha MP Jayne Kihara accused Mr Murathe of meddling in the party affairs despite his public resignation from the post. "What role does Mr Murathe have in the party that he is now bossing members around?" she posed.

Additional reporting by Onyango K'Onyango, Tom Matoke and Macharia Mwangi

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