Deputy President William Ruto on Thursday gave the clearest indication that he is unlikely to vie for presidency come 2022 on a Jubilee party ticket.
The DP, while speaking during an interview, noted that although the turbulence within the ruling party could still be ironed out through dialogue, he hinted at several options available to him.
According to Dr Ruto, the problems currently facing Jubilee have been engineered by people he described as ‘conmen’ out to clip his State House bid.
Isolated from government and staring at what could be an anti-establishment stab at the top seat, he alluded to plans by ‘forces’ led by party vice-chairman David Murathe.
“Our Jubilee Party has been hijacked by busybodies, conmen and brokers making it look like Kanu, which had issues and at last remained a skeleton. Now we are being told by them that the party might not field a candidate come 2022 saying they have plans with certain individuals,” he told a local station.
“In case it persists, there are several options in politics. Just the same way when the president found that it was no longer tenable to be in Kanu, he formed The National Alliance (TNA)…breaking a cooking stick is not the end of cooking.”
Already, the DP’s camp has lined up a number of political parties, of which insiders say there are two he is likely to use.
They remain highly guarded even as they plan to operationalise Jubilee Asili Centre next week, with sources saying it will be a political office.
Former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri’s The Service Party (TSP) is among those identified as possible vehicles for the DP.
Friends of Dr Ruto also hinted that he might use the Party of Development and Reforms (PDR) — which is associated with Garissa Town MP Aden Duale — or the New Democrats, linked to former Marakwet West MP David Kiprono Sudi, among others.
“Apart from TSP of Kiunjuri, PDR and the New Democrats, there are two other political parties registered by just ordinary people which DP is likely to use come 2022, but we have agreed to protect them because the moment they are known, the deep state will start to frustrate them like what happened in Ford-Kenya recently,” said one of the MPs who requested for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
Took a back seat
The DP also disclosed that he opted to take a back seat in his second term after some people, whom he did not name, questioned his first term engagements.
“In our first term, it was Uhuruto but some people became uncomfortable with it hence I had to take a back seat and have Uhuru’s legacy as we project that he is the leader of government. But I have done everything I have been assigned,” said Dr Ruto.
His utterances come after president Uhuru Kenyatta has finally vanquished his deputy in the fight for control of the Jubilee Party, leaving the country’s second-in-command with only one option – to find a new political vehicle for his 2022 presidential bid.
Sources at the party’s headquarters say that Mr Kenyatta now has firm grip on Jubilee after some of the DP’s “remnants” were either kicked out or stripped of their powers.
The president has also succeeded in reconstituting the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and the National Management Committee (NMC).
After months of persistent onslaught on the DP, which saw his allies kicked out of key parliamentary positions, the president embarked on a clean-up at party headquarters, forcing Dr Ruto’s Tangatanga camp to seek refuge at the Jubilee Asili Centre in Kilimani, Nairobi.
A key DP ally since their days at the United Republican Party, Mr Joseph Mulili, who had been serving as the Jubilee deputy finance director, has been kicked out over claims of “leaking crucial party information.”
The DP’s allies in May took the war to Mr Kenyatta’s doorstep with a barrage of damaging revelations, including an exposè alleging that a company associated with the president’s relatives was awarded a multimillion-shilling tender to supply key campaign materials in the run-up to the 2017 elections.
Jubilee deputy secretary-general Caleb Kositany, who is the DP’s de-facto spokesman, has also accused the party of corruption and failing to publish its financial records.
But allies of the DP have now shelved some of their initial threats, including a plan to move to court to push for the audit of Jubilee funds.
Mr Kositany said they decided to suspend the plan until an appeal they filed mid-last month challenging the post-election coalition agreement between Jubilee Party and Kanu is decided.
According to the Soy MP, moving to court over the financial records of the party will be determined by the outcome of the current petition that is before the Appellate court.
“Tuju has failed to respond to my two letters but we have a case which we have filed hence we are waiting for its determination before our next move,” Mr Kositany said recently at a press conference in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County.
“We will explore all the legal avenues including party structures until we get answers,” he added.