The fate of Deputy President William Ruto as Jubilee Party deputy leader now lies with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
This after the National Management Committee (NMC) made the bold decision to remove Ruto as the party’s deputy leader and forwarded the decision to the National Executive Council (NEC) chaired by the president.
Uhuru’s allies in Jubilee have accused Ruto of sabotage and faulted his association with the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), an affiliate party of Jubilee.
Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju yesterday told The Standard that the NMC – the second most powerful organ of Jubilee Party – which sets agenda for the NEC, resolved to fire Ruto as the deputy party leader.
“The NMC discussed the matter and resolved to remove the DP as per the party constitution. The matter is active, we have the recommendations of NMC and now only waiting for the party leader to convene a NEC meeting to deliberate on the matter,” said Tuju.
The secretary general said the party leader could either call for the meeting or delegate the matter as was the case with the removal of Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata as the Majority Whip when he chaired the Senate Parliamentary Group over breach of confidentiality.
The DP, whose relationship with the president has deteriorated in recent months over his early 2022 campaigns and ambivalence towards the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), was the last man standing from his Tangatanga wing in the ruling party.
This comes after Ruto’s ally and Jubilee Deputy Secretary General Caleb Kositany was shown the door two weeks ago. Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe, while appearing on KTN News Cross-fire show, said Kositany would be kicked out.
“I am putting Kositany on notice that when the NMC meets, we will remove you from the party,” Murathe told Kositany for propagating the interests of UDA while enjoying the benefits of Jubilee.
Murathe and Tuju have not minced their words since the purge on Ruto allies in Parliament and Cabinet began. They declared that they will not spare anyone out to derail the president’s legacy agenda and Handshake with ODM leader Raila Odinga.
The dilemma is that NEC has not been convened since 2017, however within this period the Majority Leaders in both the National Assembly and Senate and their Majority Whips have been expelled for being disloyal and supporting the DP.
Some of the casualties in the UhuRuto war include former Cabinet Secretaries Rashid Echesa and Mwangi Kiunjuri. In Parliament, the ‘bloodbath’ swept away all Ruto allies from the House leadership and departmental committees.
They include MP Adan Duale (Garissa Township), Senator Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo/Marakwet) and his Nakuru counterpart Susan Kihika, former Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki, MPs Ben Washiali (Mumias East) and Cecily Mbarire (nominated).
By virtue of the positions they held in Parliament, the were members of NMC and NEC. Their removal thus left Ruto exposed.
Suspended by tribunal
The last time the NMC met on February 8, it sanctioned the expulsion of the six nominated senators who appeared before the disciplinary committee for snubbing the president’s Parliamentary Group meeting and supporting UDA. The expulsion has been suspended by the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal.
DP’s allies have argued that before he is removed as Jubilee deputy party leader, he should be ousted as the DP through an impeachment, initiated in the National Assembly and upheld by the Senate.
The MPs allied to Ruto have also cited the party’s transitional clause Articles 33 (2) of the constitution on Transition Clauses, “The president of the Republic of Kenya shall be the party leader and the Deputy President shall be the deputy party leader.”
Article 33 (3) states that the interim officials and the rest of the NMC are appointed in consultation by the party leader and the deputy.
Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua said kicking out the DP from his position in the party was inconsequential. “Who cares? Jubilee is a shell. We are focussed on building the hustler nation and the forthcoming general election. Anything else is a distraction and a sideshow,” said Gachagua.
The fallout between the president and his deputy last month saw the former dare the DP to quit government if he was dissatisfied with it.
“If you are praising it (government) stay in, if you are dissatisfied, get out,” said President Kenyatta who argued that one cannot be selective by discrediting the government and on the other hand seek to take credit for its successes.
He has on other occasions hinted that the DP had taken off the blocks too early for the 2022 race to State House.
During the unveiling of the BBI report at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi last October, the president likened his deputy’s move to an athlete going backwards for the baton in a relay race without waiting for the baton to be passed to him.
Tuju has in the past faulted Ruto for early campaigns to succeed Uhuru, but the DP has maintained that his presidential bid was unstoppable.
The DP and his allies in the ‘Tangatanga’ wing of Jubilee have laid claim to the outfit, with Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei stating that if they are to leave the party, they will ensure it remains a shell.
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