power fight

Kenya: Jubilee Party split over leadership wrangles

By Victor Abuso

Posted on April 27, 2023 09:23

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Kenya’s former president Uhuru Kenyatta on February 6, 2022. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Kenya’s former ruling Jubilee Party is embroiled in leadership problems, as two factions battle to control the once-powerful party that ruled the country for a decade, between 2013 and 2022.

On 26 April, one group linked to former President Uhuru Kenyatta (currently the Jubilee Party leader) and another one supporting President William Ruto, stormed the party headquarters in Nairobi, with each claiming authority to be in office.

Jubilee Party, an affiliate of the opposition coalition Azimio la Umoja, supported Raila Odinga in his quest to seek the Presidency last year, but members split after Ruto was announced the winner.

A few weeks after his swearing-in, East African Legislative Assembly MP Kanini Kega mobilised a section of politicians within the party and switched loyalty to Ruto whom they met at State House.

That was followed by Kega announcing himself as the new Secretary General and suspending Kenyatta’s confidant Jeremiah Kioni and chairman David Murathe after he held a National Executive Council meeting with a group of loyalists. They accused the two leaders of mismanaging the affairs of the party.

On Wednesday, the police lobbed tear gas to disperse supporters of Kega and Kioni who had forcibly tried to storm the party’s offices.

“He must leave, he was suspended from that position,” Kega said, referring to his opponent Kioni, who was in the party offices.

Kioni maintains that he still holds the position, disregarding a meeting of his opponents who say they dismissed him without Kenyatta’s knowledge.

“I am not going anywhere,” Kioni responded to Kega, accusing him of being bought by the government to disrupt the opposition’s agenda.

Despite the directive from the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal (PPDT) urging the party to resolve differences internally, both camps are set on controlling Jubilee.

Stamping authority

Kenyatta stormed the party headquarters to protect his ally Kioni, adding that his presence was aimed at protecting the party.

“We want our rights respected. I have to come to stand in solidarity with him and party members to protect our party,” Kenyatta said.

“Let anybody who wants to leave [the] party [to] do so,” Kenyatta added, referring to disgruntled members who have decided to support the ruling regime.

Kenyatta also accused the government of using the police to harass his allies in the party.

However, Defence Minister Aden Duale, a close ally of Ruto, has criticised Kenyatta, calling on the former leader to stop engaging in active politics.

“It is despicable to see a former President who, after having served two full terms, reduces his stature by fighting over a shell of a party,” tweeted Duale.