Kenya: Jubilee Convenes Make-or-Break Meeting in Planned Divorce With UDA

President Uhuru Kenyatta's Jubilee Party is set to meet Monday to discuss a dispute filed by Deputy President William Ruto-linked United Democratic Alliance (UDA), which is opposed to the ruling party's plans to divorce it.

Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju told Nation that the party's National Management Committee (NMC) will meet to deliberate on a decision by UDA, formerly Party of Development and Reforms (PDR), to seek arbitration on the protracted dispute.

A decision by Jubilee's top organ to severe ties could portend legal hurdles for the DP and his allies, as the legality of their elective and executive positions could be challenged in court.

"I received a letter from UDA and the Jubilee NMC shall deliberate on the content of that letter. The NMC will then direct the party on what to do next," Mr Tuju told Nation.

UDA, a rebrand of PDR, protested the move by the ruling party to cut ties with it.

The law provides that leaders elected on one party should not propagate ideals of another.

"As provided for in the coalition agreement deposited in your office on May 30, 2018, and further pursuant to Article 6 of the said coalition agreement, we have thereof declared a dispute. The relevant organs of the coalition parties shall undertake the appropriate arbitration processes in a bid to resolve the dispute and update you on the outcome thereof," UDA Secretary General Veronica Maina earlier said in a letter to Registrar of Political parties, Ms Anne Nderitu.

Murathe dares Ruto

Jubilee vice chairman, David Murathe, dared the DP and his team to quit the ruling party, which would mean mass expulsion that would in turn trigger multiple by-elections.

"They can't have their cake and eat it," Mr Murathe said. "If they are popular enough let them agree so that we go and seek fresh mandate from the people. From now on, anyone of them who will propagate the ideals of UDA will be deemed to have left Jubilee."

He wondered why the "rebels" in Jubilee were "cunning" by continuing to pay their monthly subscriptions to Jubilee while also courting a new outfit.

"As long as they are paying, they are still Jubilee members but the law is clear that if you are promoting the interest of another party you are deemed to have left the party which sponsored you to Parliament and therefore it's a by election. That's very clear but let's first meet as NMC on Monday, we shall give our stand," the Jubilee official added.

Section 14 (5) of the Political Parties Act, 2011, states that "a person who, while being a member of a political party, forms another political party, joins in the formation of another political party, joins another political party, in any way or manner, publicly advocates for the formation of another political party or promotes the ideology, interests or policies of another political party shall be deemed to have resigned from the previous political party."

It is on this basis that Jubilee is keen on letting go the DP's faction.

Dr Ruto has openly stated that UDA would be their new political vehicle should they be pushed against the wall in Jubilee.

"They have been boasting of leaving, now we have opened the doors so why are they again refusing? If they want to go, let them stand up to be counted and go for election," Mr Murathe said.

Mr Murathe said they were ready for by-elections, adding that the DP's troops should not fear parting ways with Jubilee if they are popular.

The former Gatanga MP dared the DP's troops to emulate what former vice President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga did in 1966 when he formed the Kenya People's Union (KPU).

"In that election, Jaramogi's vice President, Bildad Kaggia, even lost his seat and that's what awaits the team," he said.

Another possibility

Another Jubilee official, however, on Sunday stated that the NMC might as well abandon its quest for a divorce with UDA "as it's just a waste of time and it is evident they are out to derail the president in his agenda."

"We have detected their monkey business and we know their plan is to delay us with several legal battles. We don't want to fall into their traps. If need be, we may abandon this course altogether," he said.

He pointed out that since the renegades were still paying their monthly contributions to the party, NMC may as well abandon the divorce process.

Political analyst, Mr Dismas Mokua, holds that the Jubilee divorce process could just hit a snag as "probability of any elected leader in Kenya losing a seat on account of associating with another party is almost zero."

"The process is long and tedious. Parties often rush to courts to stop suspensions and expulsions. It is unlikely that UDA-allied members will lose their seats unless they resign," Mr Mokua said.

Jubilee, he said, has tried to kick out a number of senators in vain.

"It positions Ruto as a victim and gives him the opportunity to run away from Jubilee's significant fiscal and monetary management challenges," he said.

He said President Kenyatta is keen on severing links with Dr Ruto to separate legacy and succession politics.

"Jubilee is focused on legacy while UDA is focused on succession. These two agendas cannot be accommodated in the same house. Ruto is being set free to pursue his 2022 agenda."

Belgut MP, Nelson Koech, insists that UDA is just a transformed PDR, that legally belongs to the Jubilee coalition.

"First I am Jubilee, not a member of PDR. But speaking for UDA, there exists mechanisms before you part ways. You register a dispute and must conclude it before you summarily dissolve the agreement. At this point UDA is right to acknowledge there is a dispute and let us first resolve the dispute," said Mr Koech.

The Jubilee-PDR agreement requires that until the dispute mechanism is exhausted, the deal remains in force.

Another UDA-linked MP told Nation that their new request for an arbitration will give them enough time before they finally make a decision to exit the pact with Jubilee, a few months to the next general election.

"Even Political Parties Tribunal will say there's a clause that states all available mechanisms must be exhausted to resolve a dispute. That's the clause we're using. We hope they (Jubilee) will call us for talks where disagreement will still emanate as time goes by before we exit," said the MP.

In his letter to Ms Nderitu, Mr Tuju had said while Jubilee was seeking to end its relationship with PDR, now UDA.

UDA now has five elected leaders in Parliament led by Ms Dullo, who is Senate Deputy Majority Leader and the Isiolo senator, as well as Wajir Woman Rep Fatuma Gedi, Tarbaj's Ahmed Bashane, Mark Lomunokol of Kacheliba and Ijara's Sophia Abdi.

"However and without prejudice, all members of the dissolved coalition holding leadership positions in the Assemblies shall continue serving as such," said Mr Tuju in his April 20 letter to Ms Nderitu.

Mr Tuju had insisted that Jubilee wanted to terminate the agreement because of what he said was exit of the PDR officials that signed the deal; the fact that UDA had moved out of the Northern Kenya counties it had said it will only field candidates; as well as what he said was cases of UDA members disrespecting Jubilee.

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