- Senator Cherargei said DP Ruto must be on the lookout for Mr Odinga’s attempts to wreck Jubilee as he strengthens ODM.
- Political commentator Philip Chebunet said that for the DP to be assured of a strong chance to win in 2022, he should ensure the party remains united and strong.
Close associates of Deputy President William Ruto are pushing him to wrest control of the ruling Jubilee Party from President Uhuru Kenyatta, a day after the Head of State hosted politicians from his Mt Kenya political base to quell a simmering rebellion and put his house in order.
They are citing the fact that Mr Kenyatta on Friday chose to have a conversation with leaders from Mt Kenya only instead of hosting a full parliamentary group meeting, and his absence from the campaign trenches of the recent hotly contested Kibra by-election, as proof that the President is no longer interested in Jubilee affairs.
The President has not pronounced himself on the matter, and it is not clear whether DP Ruto has the muscle and authority to topple his boss from the helm of the party without irreparably harming its relevance in the Kenyatta succession debate.
However, the jitters and jostling in the Ruto camp signal an escalation of internal feuding within the ruling party that could force it to implode.
On Saturday, DP Ruto pitched tent in his Rift Valley backyard and dismissed any suggestions that Jubilee was divided. He told perceived rebels to toe the line or leave the party.
The Ruto allies, who include Nandi Governor Stephen Sang and the area Senator Samson Cherargei, argue that for the DP to have a strong bid in the coming presidential poll, he will have to protect the party from ODM leader Raila Odinga’s attempts to vanquish it, saying the outfit has national appeal.
Because of that perception of national appeal, the leaders say DP Ruto stands a better chance of succeeding Mr Kenyatta if he vies for the presidency on a Jubilee ticket than if he decamped now to form his own political outfit.
The easiest way out of the quagmire, therefore, is to take over the party and ride on its popularity, they argue.
The scheme is built around the party’s constitution and the belief that they have the numbers.
They are, therefore, pushing Mr Ruto to ensure party elections are held early next year so that they can kick out Mr Kenyatta’s perceived henchmen from the helm through the ballot.
“Jubilee Party’s focus now should be to stop Mr Odinga from breaking it, the way he has done to other ruling parties before. He destroyed Kanu, Narc, Cord and now he is clearly after Jubilee,” Mr Cherargei told the Sunday Nation.
In the Kibra by-election that was easily won by Mr Bernard Imran Okoth of ODM, Jubilee members supported different candidates, with DP Ruto and politicians affiliated to the Tangatanga team supporting footballer-turned-politician McDonald Mariga.
The Kieleweke faction of the ruling party supported Mr Okoth, a brother of the late MP Ken Okoth, who ran on an ODM ticket.
Mr Kenyatta gave the by-election a wide berth, leaving DP Ruto to unsuccessfully head the hunt for votes for Mr Mariga in the hostile terrain that is Kibra, described by Mr Odinga as his political bedroom.
Senator Cherargei said DP Ruto must be on the lookout for Mr Odinga’s attempts to wreck Jubilee as he strengthens ODM.
He said he was fully behind President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto on many issues of national interest, but noted that they should ensure the party remains strong and maintains its national appeal.
But politicians from Mr Kenyatta’s side of the Jubilee equation promised to fight off any attempts to pull the rug from under the President’s feet.