Uhuru, Ruto unveil new party for re-election campaign
By JOHN NGIRACHU, @JohnNgirachu
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto have settled on a new party on whose ticket they will contest the next elections.
The party was on Tuesday endorsed by a delegates meeting at State House, Nairobi, and is different from the Jubilee Alliance Party, which some members rejected.
It is to be called Jubilee Party with the slogan “Tuko Pamoja” (We are together). The choice of slogan fits into a pattern in which President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto have emphasised their unity, a move seen as aimed at endearing the DP to voters in central Kenya seen to be suspicious of him.
Mr Kenyatta wants Mr Ruto to succeed him in 2022 if they are re-elected in 2017. Mr Ruto’s supporters are also suspicious of central Kenya voters and are not sure whether they will back their man when the time comes.
Organisers of Tuesday’s meeting said Jubilee Party would move Kenya from recent trends where coalition of mainly regional parties came together during an election to form the government.
The concept was presented by the Interim National Governing Council headed by Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi and former minister Noah Wekesa.
With a symbol of hands clasped high against a gold background and a red border, the party was sold as a long-term idea away from the tradition since 2002 of creating parties and coalitions as vehicles meant to win the presidency.
“The core message of the party is unity of all the people of Kenya, prosperity, equality and inclusiveness,” Mr Murungi told the Daily Nation on Tuesday evening.
He said the party is meant to last longer than the parties that will be merged to form it, meaning that when Mr Ruto takes a stab at the presidency in 2022 as planned, voters in Jubilee’s strongholds will not be voting for a member of an unfamiliar party.
“It is our vehicle into the future. We realised we have never really concentrated on building parties. We merely come up with election vehicles and we form parties again or revive them for purposes of nominations to the election,” said Mr Murungi.
TNA chairman Johnson Sakaja said: “We have now gotten everybody on board: senators, governors, MCAs, so for us it’s the best thing that can happen to our country when we create something that is truly national.
“JAP was moving into a party. This is a merger where all the parties are coming together to be one. It is not just a vehicle. Everyone has shed their identity. How you start a party is important and you see now we have 100 per cent buy-in. Even those who were sceptical, after the presentation, they agreed,” said Mr Sakaja.
Another MP who attended the meeting said Mr Ruto cited South Africa’s African National Congress, the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom and independence party Kanu as models of parties of the sort Jubilee Party would grow into.
The plan, said Mr Murungi, is to have leaders of the parties in the Jubilee Coalition — The National Alliance, United Republican Party, United Democratic Front and others — discuss the merger process. This will also involve MPs, governors, MCAs and other elected representatives.
After that, there will be a meeting of the National Delegates Congress in March, followed by the convention for the merger. This will be followed by the party’s inauguration by April.
The national executive councils of the parties had signed resolutions agreeing to merge them into Jubilee, after which they will be dissolved and cease to exist by March.
Additional reporting by Jeremiah Kiplang’at