President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party has resolved to freeze coalition talks with Raila Odinga’s ODM for five months to focus on its own revamp.
The move will slow down the ongoing discussions between the two parties and consequently halt efforts for an earlier 2022 Uhuru-Raila coalition that is expected to take on Deputy President William Ruto in next year’s presidential race.
Jubilee expects the move will enable it to strengthen party structures, seal internal cracks and shore up public appeal to enhance its bargaining power in the proposed deal.
Icon news has learned that a crisis meeting of the Jubilee secretariat and MPs on Monday agreed to slam the brakes on the proposed deal with Raila over systemic challenges that could hurt the process.
Details gleaned from MPs who attended the meeting revealed the proposed political deal with ODM will be temporarily suspended to allow Jubilee to put its house in order.
“We agreed that at least for now, we should drop the idea of the merger and instead focus on revamping the party for the next four months,” Jubilee Party deputy secretary-general Joshua Kutuny said.
Kutuny who also attended the session at the Jubilee headquarters in Pangani, Nairobi, told Icon news that while the decision does not mean a total halt to the coalition plans, it will usher in fresh timeliness.
“The merger idea is on the table but not for now. Let it come at a later date when we have finished rejuvenating our party and made it a formidable force,” Kutuny said.
While a joint statement read to the press on Monday after the meeting made no mention of the coalition plans, it emerged that the agenda dominated the meeting that was attended by at least 16 MPs.
It was resolved that it would be unhealthy for Jubilee to proceed with coalition talks with ODM at a time when it is battling internal revolt.
Jubilee joint secretary for the parliamentary group Adan Keynan said the party will instead focus on reorganising, restructuring and revamping its structures before entering into a coalition agreement.
“Once we are done with that and the party becomes visible at all levels, we will then decide who our partners would be in the countdown to the 2022 polls,” the Eldas MP said.
“Certainly, we will enter into coalitions with like-minded parties and groups,” he added.
The MP said given that DP Ruto’s camp had left for UDA, the loyal members whom he said are the majority will stabilise Jubilee.
Raila’s ODM had said it was focused on its coalition plans with Jubilee despite the ruling party’s loss in last week’s Kiambaa parliamentary by-election that was won by UDA.
United Democratic Alliance candidate Njuguna Wanjiku got 21, 773 votes to capture the seat, beating Jubilee’s Karuri Njama who garnered 21,263 votes.
President Kenyatta’s succession strategists are said to be working on an elaborate game plan that will see ODM and Jubilee field a joint presidential candidate in next year’s general election.
There is a belief among Uhuru’s power-wielding men that unless Jubilee and ODM settle on a joint candidate, Ruto would have a field day in his bid to ascend to the presidency.
Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said the ruling party will remain focused on the priorities aimed at uniting members and forging a common front.
“Our meeting with the National Management Committee was to agree on the immediate priorities for us as a party and that is rejuvenating the party across the country,” Ngunjiri said.
The MP said after Jubilee completes the revamp, it will move into coalition building for the purposes of the 2022 General Election.
“The 2022 coalitions will be determined by what members direct them to,” he said.
“Going forward and within 30 days, we are taking positions to market the Jubilee Party because we believe we have a fighting chance after what we did in Kiambaa,” he said.
There has been a wind of excitement within Uhuru’s camp especially after pulling a surprisingly close contest with Ruto in Kiambaa despite initially having given up owing to the perceived hustler nation wave.
The President is said to have called the team leaders in the Kiambaa contest and thanked them for their efforts that demonstrated Jubilee’s popularity was neck to neck with UDA.
Uhuru is also said to have intervened and blocked the push to kick out Jubilee secretary-general Raphael Tuju and vice-chairman David Murathe to avoid widening the cracks.
The Jubilee Party announced on Monday that it will embark on an aggressive campaign to re-brand itself, activate grassroots networks, open branch offices and fill vacant posts.
JUBILEE ON ITS DEATH BED
Under the plan which is expected to take at least 30 days, the ruling party will also roll out a wall-to-wall programme to breathe life to dysfunctional organs that have been blamed for internal squabbling.
There have been concerns that the President’s party could be on its deathbed due to internal wrangles that have been blamed for Jubilee’s significant losses in recent by-elections.
The ejection of Ruto’s allies from the party after a nasty falling out with Uhuru and the move to crack the whip on MPs allied to the DP had shaken the ruling party to the core.