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Kenneth, Karua’s entry triggers crisis for Jubilee

karuaThe surprise decisions by Martha Karua and Peter Kenneth to support President Kenyatta’s reelection, thus consolidating the Mt Kenya vote bloc, has triggered twin crises in Jubilee. The two, who refuse to dismantle their own political machines to join the Jubilee Party behemoth, now offer tempting new platforms and tickets for disgruntled JP candidates.

This is a situation Jubilee has fought tooth and nail to avoid. Karua, the head of Narc Kenya, plans to run for Kirinyaga governor.

The flamboyant Kenneth, who came a distant fourth in the 2013 presidential contest, heads the Kenya National Congress.

They bring to seven the number of political parties supporting Uhuru’s 2017 re-election bid, but which adamantly reject JP merger.

On Thursday, Karua reaffirmed she will not dissolve her party but will support Uhuru next year, a move strengthening her own election chances.

“Since our party has offices in most parts of the country, it will field candidates in all six elective positions, save for President, since we will be supporting Kenyatta’s re-election in the August 2017 general election,” she said. Karua addressed delegates at the Kirinyaga Catholic Hall.

However, ex-chairman of the defunct TNA party, Johnson Sakaja, yesterday told the Star that parties wishing to support Uhuru for President must fold up.

“In my opinion, they have to dissolve their parties to follow President Uhuru Kenyatta. Otherwise, the parties are in opposition to Jubilee,” he said.

That lifted the lid on the anxiety that has gripped JP over party positions, members of the national campaign team and nominations themselves.

“If they support the President because of his philosophy, principles of leadership and because he is doing a good job, then they should dissolve their parties — otherwise our supporters are not going to support them.” Uhuru and Ruto’s decision not to name permanent party officials at this time is said to be a strategic move to avoid fall out, amid reports of tension and mistrust within Jubilee.

Last week, Uhuru announced, once again, that JP elections have been deferred until after the general election. But apart from the nominations headache, there is speculation that Karua and Kenneth, both 2013 presidential candidates, are positioning themselves to run against Deputy President William Ruto in 2022.

The unofficial agreement that Central Kenya will support Ruto for the presidency in 2022 is already generating heat, as some DP allies insist the Kikuyu community must pay their “political debt”. “We are telling them that ‘dawa ya deni ni kulipa’. In 2022, they have to vote for Ruto, because we voted for them in 2013 and we will do the same in 2017,” Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago said on October 26.

Karua and Ruto are sworn enemies and the DP previously accused her of being among allies of former President Kibaki who supposedly “fixed” him at the ICC.

When Kenneth declared his intentions to back Uhuru, Majority Leader Aden Duale welcomed the move but warned against unsettling the Jubilee power arrangement. “We welcome Peter Kenneth to Jubilee and assure him free and fair nominations. However, Kenneth must be aware that as Jubilee, we have a strategic plan for 20 years… Ruto has what it takes to succeed Uhuru for 10 years,” Duale said.

Everyone is acutely aware of popular parties’ history of primaries of dubious credibility and of the current jostling and reported lineups of preferred candidates for next year’s polls. In light of this uncertainty, aspirants who think they are not in the good books of the JP leadership are shopping for alternative outfits that support Uhuru and Ruto.

In Mt Kenya, some former allies of Kibaki are promising to re-engineer PNU to rival JP. They have rebuffed calls for dissolution and merger with J P.

Other pro-Kenyatta affiliates include the Democratic Party, the Party of National Unity and the New Vision Party. However, in Ruto’s Rift Valley backyard, Kanu and Chama Cha Mashinani are also hoping to reap from the fierce internal Jubilee competition. The fielding of many Jubilee- allied candidates may cost Uhuru and Ruto the “tyranny of numbers” they currently enjoy in the bicameral Parliament.

At this time, Jubilee holds the influential positions of majority leaders in both houses due to its numerical strength. TNA also gets the lion’s share of the political parties’ cash because of its parliamentary majority. Uhuru and Ruto pushed their lieutenants in Parliament to pass a law banning party hopping after dissolution of 11 Jubilee affiliates. Karua said she is focussing on becoming Kirinyaga governor. She is facing off against former Devolution CS Anne Waiguru and incumbent Joseph Ndathi. Yesterday, Nandi Senator Stephen Sang said JP will push for a ‘six-piece suit’ voting pattern in Rift Valley to lock out Kanu and Chama Cha Mashinani.

“We want a situation where President, senators, governors, MPs, woman representatives and MCAs all will be Jubilee. This will make it easy to govern and implement government’s plans,” . Sang said voters should not be duped into splitting their votes — voting for Uhuru and Ruto on the JP ticket, while electing other leaders on other tickets. “If you choose to give President Uhuru and DP Ruto the mandate to lead, then give them the full mandate. Those talking of madoadoa should not be allowed to confuse our people. We don’t want to have county assemblies and a Parliament that will make it hard to lead and implement our manifesto,” he said.

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