Launch of Jubilee Party to wait longer amid rising internal resistance

Jubilee Party

The grand launch of the Jubilee Party that was scheduled for the 31st of this month will not take place after all. A consultative meeting of the steering committee conceded that the party had hit a rocky start, including stiff opposition from some members of the Jubilee Coalition’s affiliate parties.

“It is true that there’s resistance among some of our political parties which is understandable, some of those holding political positions in the parties are afraid of losing them,” said Kiraitu Murungi, the chair of the National Executive Committee of Jubilee Party.

Though National Executive Committees of the three main Jubilee Coalition affiliate parties; TNA, URP and APK, had endorsed the dissolution directive issued by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto, and okayed the merger of their parties into one political outfit; the Jubilee Party, some of their members have resisted the move, terming it dictatorial and non-inclusive. A majority of Members of Parliament who spoke to Citizen TV on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals insist the parties should retain their distinct identities.

“It’s a willing buyer, willing seller, we don’t want to force people to come to Jubilee. As soon as the party is registered and launched by the President, you will see that resistance go down,” said Noah Wekesa, the committee’s co-chair.

There is also anxiety on the joint nomination process, ahead of next year’s General Election. Those opposed to the dissolution of the affiliates fear they could be rigged out in favour of aspirants who are closer to the new party’s top brass.

“There are others who are afraid of nominations. I think that’s where the greatest challenge is coming from. Some people want a small party which will give them a direct ticket in the party nomination,” added Kiraitu.

Governors Peter Munya and Isaac Ruto have been leading the rebellion and have identified alternative political parties should the President and his deputy insist on the merger.

“I know of political parties that are led by people who are worried that if they come in a bigger competition of Jubilee they will lose, so they prefer remaining in those parties,” noted Wekesa.

There is also the legal hurdle in merging the Jubilee Coalition affiliate parties. The Political Parties Act 2011 does not cover the President and Governors in case the parties that sponsored their election are merged. A Bill seeking to amend the Act is before the National Assembly, and is lined up for the second reading next week.

“It will be risky for us to dissolve the parties without making provisions for the continuity of the President and the Governors. We don’t want to throw the country in a legal or a political crisis, we thought let’s wait, until the law is passed,” noted Kiraitu.

CORD has dismissed the planned Jubilee merger, terming it an attempt to return the country into single party dictatorship, an allegation Murungi and Wekesa have rubbished.

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Story By Francis Gachuri
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