Former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party is today expected to make sweeping changes at its top leadership at the special National Delegates Convention (NDC) in Nairobi, even as the faction led by nominated MP Sabina Chege declared the meeting irregular.
Mr Kenyatta is expected to purge party rebels at the meeting to be attended by Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party honchos led by Mr Raila Odinga, in a move by Mr Kenyatta to stamp his authority in the party amid an onslaught by Ms Chege and East Africa Legislative Assembly MP Kanini Kega.
The duo has teamed up with a section of Jubilee MPs to kick out Mr Kenyatta as party leader alongside Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni, Vice-Chairman David Murathe and Treasurer Kagwe Gichohi.
The rebels named Ms Chege as the new party leader and Mr Kega as the new Secretary-General.
Yesterday, Mr Kioni was insistent that it was all systems go for today’s event at the Ngong Racecourse in Nairobi, where key decisions will be made including replacing some members from leadership positions.
“We have people who have left the party while others have been appointed to other institutions and the law requires that they let go of party positions and so the members will have an opportunity to replace them,” Mr Kioni told Nation.
He said the meeting will also give party members an opportunity to take stock and agree on a way forward for the outfit.
“We would also want to reaffirm our continued presence in Azimio and address issues of housekeeping and others that have become a nightmare to Kenyans like the high cost of living, the sinking economy and multi-party democracy which is under threat under the Kenya Kwanza regime,” Mr Kioni said.
But even as Mr Kioni outlined today’s programme at the NDC, Mr Kega and National Chairman Nelson Dzuya said the convention lacked legal backing.
“Even if they proceed, it will merely be a public rally because it has no force of law. In fact, it [holding the meeting] adds more to the charges against him [Mr Kenyatta],” Mr Kega charged.
Mr Dzuya insisted that “due process was not followed” while calling the meeting.
“The party’s National Executive Council (NEC) would have to sit before convening such a meeting.However, their purported NEC meeting that was chaired by a former party leader had only seven members, of whom three are on suspension — Mr Kioni, Mr Murathe and Mr Kagwe — and so it lacked the quorum as per the party’s constitution,” Mr Dzuya told Nation. He also faulted Mr Kenyatta for convening the NDC, claiming that the party’s constitution gives the mandate to the secretary-general.
Mr Dzuya said a complaint had been lodged with party’s dispute resolution committee but Mr Kenyatta had not yet been served due to various challenges.
“We hope the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties will evaluate and see whether they followed due process,” he said.
Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu yesterday told Nation that her office cannot interfere with the affairs of political parties, stating that she will evaluate all the processes by the Jubilee officials and thereafter make a legal determination.
“Let them conduct their affairs and once they are done, they will have to bring it to us to make a determination on the legalities as per the party’s constitution and the Political Parties Act,” she said.
Mr Kioni also defended Mr Kenyatta’s role in the affairs of Jubilee Party, noting that, contrary to Presidential Retirement Benefits Act, which requires that a retired Head of State should not hold a political office six months after retirement, Mr Kenyatta is entitled to all constitutional rights.
Also Read: Kega camp expels Murathe, Kioni from Jubilee
Mr Odinga has called on President Ruto to respect all political parties and desist from co-opting opposition MPs to his camp.
He accused Dr Ruto of killing multi-party democracy by rallying opposition MPs to the government side and outlined it as one of the conditions for the bipartisan talks.
“We want a guarantee and an assurance that there will be no interference with all Azimio affiliated parties and that they must not continue to interfere with Jubilee political party.”
“They must give us an undertaking that they shall not interfere with Jubilee’s convention on Monday [today],” Mr Odinga told journalists on Tuesday last Week.
Yesterday, Ms Chege and Mr Kega were among leaders who accompanied President Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua for an interdenominational prayer service at Isiolo Boys High School in Isiolo County.
“We know they were sponsored to attend the service ... so that they push their negative agenda,” said a senior Jubilee official.
He said Mr Gachagua was hell-bent on settling scores with the former president, a “scheme that won’t succeed.