What you need to know:
- Squabbling over list of officials threatens to tear young party apart, with some of Eldoret North MP’s allies said to be thinking of going back to UDM, which they had abandoned
Eldoret North MP William Ruto’s United Republican Party might not be registered because one of its officials is a public officer.
When the party applied for registration on Monday, Mr Francis ole Kaparo, the National Environment Management Agency chairman, was listed among its interim officials.
On Wednesday, a source at the office of the Registrar of Political Parties said the list was rejected as per Article 12 of the Political Parties Act, which bars public officers from holding party positions.
Registrar Lucy Ndung’u has already said that the law is “clear on who can or cannot hold a party position.”
But party leader William Ruto said on Wednesday they had not been officially informed about the development, adding that Mr Kaparo was ready to resign from his position.
He spoke at the International Bible School where he met MPs allied to the party.
A URP official, who spoke to the Nation on condition that he is not named, said the new officials presented to the registrar by Mr Ruto could not be accepted because the party constitution says interim officials will remain in office until they resign or new ones are elected.
“We did not resign from URP and no elections have been held; as a result, there is no way the registrar can approve the officials,” he said.
On Monday, Mr Kaparo brushed aside a question on whether he will quit as Nema chairman, saying, the matter should be raised “after 30 days” when the party expects to receive its certificate.
The listing of Mr Kaparo as interim chairman has sparked a row in the party pitting Belgut MP Charles Keter and his Chepalungu counterpart Isaac Rutto.
Mr Keter and his supporters claim Mr Rutto had influenced the change of officials in favour of his friends. Mr Ruto, the Eldoret North MP, is being accused of siding with the Chepalungu MP.
On Wednesday, word among politicians was that some URP members might be considering leaving the party and going back to the United Democratic Movement, which they abandoned barely a month ago.
A meeting of South Rift MPs, councillors and opinion leaders has been called for Kericho on Saturday at which this issue may be the top agenda.
UDM secretary-general Martin Kamwaro confirmed that some people were “unhappy” with the happenings in URP and had asked if they could return. However, he did not give names.
Mr Keter and Cherangany’s Joshua Kuttuny, are among those who have expressed reservations over the replacement of party officials.
The Eldoret North MP has downplayed the differences, saying, they will be sorted out amicably internally.
Earlier, sources said Mr Keter met a number of MPs from South Rift to plan the Saturday meeting. Some hinted that during this meeting, the MPs, who include Benjamin Lang’at (Ainamoi) and Dr Julius Kones (Konoin) may announce their defection.
Mr Keter said that the meeting was meant to discuss the region’s perceived isolation from government positions and development issues.
At the centre of the URP wrangles is the replacement of interim party officials with persons said to be allied to Mr Ruto and Mr Rutto.
In the changes, Mr Kaparo was named chairman and Mr Davis Chirchir, formerly of Interim Independent Electoral Commission, secretary-general.
Before these changes, Mr Nixon Korir, an aide of Mr Ruto, was listed as the chairman, the secretary-general was Mr Victor Biegon, a Kericho businessman and ally of Mr Keter.
Mr George Oyugi was the organising secretary, deputised by Mr Steven Mutai, while a brother of Dujis MP Aden Duale, a Mr Mohamed, was the treasurer.
Mr Keter and Mr Kuttuny skipped the presentation of the URP papers to the registrar in protest.
“We are still asking that everyone faces these issues with sobriety. We must stay united as we have been before,” Mr Kuttuny said. (READ: Parties in disarray 13 days to deadline for giving in papers)
Additional reporting by Timothy Kemei and Geoffrey Rono