The rift in Jubilee Party seemed to widen yesterday when State House dismissed calls by Deputy President William Ruto for the President to call a meeting to discuss wrangles dividing the ruling party.
Commenting on the issue two days after Ruto proposed a meeting to address differences that he said are threatening to tear the party apart, the President, through his spokesperson Kanze Dena, said his main focus was the implementation of the Big Four agenda and not politicking.
She maintained that the President was too busy steering the country’s development agenda to devote time to politics.
Jubilee MPs allied to Ruto have been calling for a Parliamentary Group meeting to iron out differences that have seen the party divided into two groups, with one side supporting the Handshake between Uhuru and Opposition leader Raila Odinga (called Kieleweke group) and the other coalescing around Ruto’s 2022 State House bid, known as the Tanga Tanga team.
The meeting call gained momentum last Sunday when Ruto, who has in the past left the matter to his allies, joined the fray and called for a party caucus to discuss the burning issues.
Speaking at the Presbyterian Church of East Africa St Luke’s Church in Embakasi East constituency, Ruto said a meeting would remind Jubilee leaders that they must work together and would ultimately rid the country of negative ethnicity and ideological divisions.
Ruto said Jubilee should not be left behind as other parties meet to prepare their development programmes. Political analysts believe Ruto must have had Odinga’s ODM party in mind, since it held what it termed a strategic meeting in Nakuru last week.
“We are a multiparty democracy. We must, therefore, organise ourselves around national political parties with issues, programmes, and policies,” Ruto said.
Allies of the DP have been pushing for a meeting to address contentious issues such as the growing split in Jubilee Party over the Handshake, the emergence of the Kieleweke and Tanga Tanga factions, war on corruption and the 2022 succession politics. Referendum talk is also on the fold.
But yesterday, State House said the Jubilee meeting is a political agenda that can only be convened by the party’s top machinery and not the President.
“As my boss and the President, has always said, we are not going to dwell on political issues. Our focus at the moment remains on the implementation of Big Four Agenda. The other things are on the periphery,” Dena said.
Since last year’s March 9 Handshake, Ruto and his allies have been at loggerheads with Raila whom they accuse of planning to scuttle the Jubilee Party. They also claim the ODM leader has joined the party in a bid to stop Ruto from succeeding Uhuru.
On Sunday Raila toured Elgeyo Marakwet county in the DPs home turf where he criticised Ruto over his frequent generous church donations.
He also rekindled talk about the controversial Aror and Kimwarer dam projects whose cost he claimed had been grossly inflated.
Ruto hit back on the same day and vowed to shoot down a Bill initiated by ODM chairman John Mbadi seen as targeting frequent church funds drive by Ruto. The Mbadi bill proposes to limit church donations to Sh100,000.
Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali said a Jubilee leaders’ meeting was overdue, as it would help address differences that have hit the ruling outfit.
But Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange, who is a key member of the Kieleweke team, dismissed the calls for a meeting, saying it was not necessary at the moment.
Meanwhile, Dena has indicated the President tour of Mt Kenya is on. “The tour is not late and plans are ongoing. It will not be Mt Kenya tour alone but will take place across the country,” said Dena.