President Ruto calls troops to order on rising wrangles in UDA

President William Ruto

President William Ruto and DP Rigathi Gachagua at the Akurinu National Prayer Conference at Nakuru High School, Nakuru County on June 9, 2024.  

Photo credit: PCS

What you need to know:

  • Mr Malala hinted at the possibility of consensus in some areas to forestall fallout.
  • The meeting resolved that the petitions were weak and, therefore, not admissible.

President William Ruto has called his troops to order following escalating wrangles among United Democratic Alliance (UDA) leaders.

Dr Ruto- the UDA party leader, is reported to have addressed a myriad of issues affecting the party, including petitions calling for the removal of the party’s officials and National Elections Board (NEB) members.

According to insiders at the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held at State House, Nairobi on Saturday, even though the perceived tiff between Dr Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua was not addressed, the President gave the leaders a dressing down, warning them against using his name in their political manoeuvres.

The President also directed that a National Steering Committee (NSC) meeting be convened to help resolve challenges facing the secretariat. Three members of staff are expected to appear before the committee.

This comes at a time when politicians and top government officials have joined in the public exchanges, issuing conflicting public statements. It is reported that the various WhatsApp groups also turned explosive, with the President and the DP sitting as silent listeners.

“The President and the DP deliberately shoved aside talks and exchanges on the infighting and the problems at the secretariat,” disclosed a source privy to the deliberations at the NEC.

The meeting is reported to have lasted from 3pm to 8.30pm.

Avoiding to weigh in on the public spat among leaders, the President is said to have instead focused on party issues.

“The meeting focused more on the elections where the NEB and the elections and nominations disputes resolutions committee submitted reports,” another official informed the Nation on condition of anonymity.

The President is reported to have pressed on the need to obey court orders. And as a result, the meeting resolved that the Narok and West Pokot elections stand postponed.

"Where the courts have issued orders stopping the election, we have to postpone. We must respect court orders," President Ruto told the meeting.

Exposing the deep-rooted problems in running UDA party affairs, the NEB was represented by the whole team led by chair Antony Mwaura, however, the Elections Dispute Resolution Committee (EDRC) only had the chairperson Joy Mdivo present.

Prior to the meeting, the Nation has established that there was drama around the venue for the NEC meeting.

“They wanted the meeting held at the party headquarters so as to deny the DP the routine presidential briefing that's done at State House before any meeting,” an MP told the Nation.

The elephant in the room was a petition seeking the removal of secretary-general Cleophas Malala.

However, things are said to have become complicated when four other petitions seeking the removal of Treasurer Japheth Nyakundi, Chairperson Cecily Mbarire and Mr Mwaura, the NEB chairperson, emerged.

The meeting resolved that the petitions were weak and, therefore, not admissible.

Electoral disputes continue to derail President Ruto’s ambitious grassroots polls as intense competition rocks the party.

Emergence of factions

There have been reports of the emergence of factions following the polls that kicked off on April 26 in seven counties, with protests being witnessed in some areas over disputes.

In Nairobi where DP Gachagua and Governor Johnson Sakaja have locked horns over the process of elections, Dr Ruto urged for a quick political settlement to allow the polls to proceed.

Mr Gachagua is said to be fronting Embakasi North MP James Gakuya against Mr Sakaja for the Nairobi county party chairmanship post.

Mr Malala hinted at the possibility of consensus in some areas to forestall fallout.

“Our focus is to strengthen the party. So any method that is geared towards achieving a strong, united party is encouraged...But in the same breath, I would like our members to approach the elections with an open mind of winning or losing. That is the basic principle of democracy,” Mr Malala told Nation.

Even as the disputes continue to rock the party, President Ruto gave a nod to phase two of the party elections to begin on June 22 in 13 counties. These are Mombasa, Uasin Gishu, Nyandarua, Tharaka-Nithi, Machakos, Kisii, Bungoma, Siaya, Taita-Taveta, Wajir, Tana River, Kwale and Marsabit counties.

The Head of State reportedly asked Mr Mwaura to proceed with county level elections in the counties of Homa Bay and Busia, whose constituency polls were not challenged.

The NEC meeting is also said to have addressed the contentious issue of the composition of the National Delegates Conference (NDC). NEC is said to have adopted the formula of sharing delegates based on the presidential vote that each county returned to the UDA presidential candidate in the 2022 elections.

This process will see counties that garnered more than 50 per cent produce 20 delegates each to the NDC, with others below that mark sharing other slots on a pro-rata basis. The third and fourth phases will take place on August 10 and August 24 in 15 and 12 counties, respectively.

In a statement after the NEC meeting, Mr Malala noted that the committee emphasized that “discipline is the engine that oils the party.”

“This follows recent occurrences where party members violated election rules and regulations and instances where party members contradicted and or disrespected senior party officials,” said Mr Malala.