Uhuru allies to keep off Tangatanga meeting

Jubilee Secretary General Tuju. He says the meeting was not sanctioned by party leadership. File

By Reporter

A section of Jubilee MPs allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta have snubbed a retreat organised by the deputy president’s camp, arguing that it had been disguised as a forum on constitutional reforms.

The lawmakers dismissed the meeting that opens today in Naivasha as selfish and out to divide the country through holding parallel gatherings to the ongoing Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) rallies.

Some of DP William Ruto’s allies had claimed that the meeting planned to start this morning would serve as the ruling party’s Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting.

However, it emerged as a partisan gathering after it highlighted an agenda that listed coming up with a strategy for the 2022 General Election and weighing Dr Ruto’s options, which gave the forum away as a gathering of MPs allied to the Tangatanga wing of Jubilee. This camp supports the DP’s quest to succeed President Kenyatta.

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, who is one of the conveners, had portrayed the forum as a PG meeting, saying it would come up with Jubilee’s official position on the BBI.

“We are gearing up for the first official Jubilee Parliamentary Group meeting since the release of the BBI report. We shall come up with the official Jubilee position on the BBI scenarios to be presented to (Senator Yusuf) Haji’s team,” said Mr Kuria, adding that the meeting would also come up with a strategy for the 2022 elections.

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa said the meeting would be used to evaluate Ruto’s influence in both the National Assembly and the Senate as they strategise for the presidential polls.“We will bond, plan on how to strengthen the party, schedule BBI sensitisation meetings, plan economic empowerment meetings with regions similar to the Sagana meeting, and also most importantly evaluate our numbers in the Senate and National Assembly of those behind William Ruto,” said Mr Barasa, a close ally of Ruto from Western Kenya.

Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju, however, said the meeting was not sanctioned by the ruling party, terming it a private initiative by some MPs.“It can only be an informal meeting by parliamentarians. Nothing is wrong with that. But our party constitution only provides for a Parliamentary Group meeting that is chaired by the party leader or when he officially delegates the chairmanship,” Mr Tuju explained yesterday.

MPs allied to the deputy president have persistently pushed Uhuru, the party leader, to convene a PG meeting, which the party has not held for more than two years, to discuss the rift in the ruling party as well as party elections due in March.In this latest bid, the idea of holding a retreat was presented following a meeting the DP’s allies held in Nairobi last week where they resolved to come up with a schedule of parallel BBI sensitisation meetings.

“That to support existing efforts and complement the already scheduled rallies, we are organising rallies in other parts of the country. We shall soon announce the calendar of complementary rallies to reinforce those already published,” Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen said after the meeting that lasted three hours at a Nairobi hotel.

Yesterday, MPs Kanini Kega (Kieni), Sabina Chege (Murang’a), Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills), Ngunjiri Wambugu (Nyeri Town), Maina Kamanda (nominated) and Paul Mwirigi (Igembe South) said they would not attend the Naivasha meeting.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale will also skip the forum, as he is currently in the US, while Nominated MP David Sankok said he was “busy with his personal business”.  

“I cannot attend such a meeting because it is not a meeting convened by the party. I don’t subscribe to their approach to issues,” said Mr Kega.

“We know it is a Tangatanga meeting. But they should know that we are watching who will be attending that meeting.”

However, Mr Murkomen was adamant the meeting would go on as scheduled.

“We will be bonding. All Jubilee MPs have been invited. Those saying they have not been invited it is because they don’t want to come. We will also discuss BBI. We will also talk about how MPs can organise sensitisation meetings in their constituencies,” he said.

But Mr Kamanda said the meeting is meant for a section of politicians who have been opposing the BBI and the handshake between the president and ODM leader Raila Odinga.“If the meeting was a Jubilee parliamentary group meeting, then the president or the party secretary general, Raphael Tuju, would be the convenors not Moses (Kuria) or any other fellow MP,” he said.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Mr Wambugu who said PG meetings are normally well structured and the conveners are known.“I am not aware of any such meeting or a retreat in Naivasha. If there is, then it must be a Tangatanga outing,” he said.

Mr Keter, who said he had not received an invitation, said the country should focus on development instead of political sideshows meant to push a personal agenda.

“Even if they were to invite me, I would not attend. These selfish agenda are not helping this country. If there is anything that we should do as MPs, let us do it in Parliament.”

Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama also distanced himself from those attending the meeting.

“I have not been invited. And I don’t think it is a parliamentary group meeting as alleged. I’m not attending,” he said.

Belgut MP Nelson Koech, a close ally of the DP, said the forum in Naivasha would bring on board like-minded leaders from across the political divide to make the most out of the BBI process.

“We found it fit to put our minds together so that we can present our proposals in a structured and organised manner to the BBI team. There are pertinent issues that we note are common to all our people, irrespective of party affiliation, and that is why we have decided to approach this as a united front,” he said.

“We will give a detailed resolution at the end of the retreat so let me not pre-empt much. For now, just know that everyone is invited, irrespective of affiliation. We will keep expanding the invites. It is just the beginning of one of many meetings. We will make them as open as possible.”

According to Soy MP Caleb Kositany, the Naivasha retreat will deliberate on issues that affect the common mwananchi. “We will discuss what is pertinent to our people and the people of Kenya. We will also discuss on how to conduct parallel BBI rallies after Haji has delivered the second BBI report to Kenyans.”

The Naivasha meeting comes after Mr Odinga led the third BBI consultative forum in Mombasa, which some Ruto allies attended.Murkomen, Susan Kihika (Nakuru) and Kuria had earlier termed the meetings a waste of taxpayers’ money, only to change tune and attend the Mombasa rally on Saturday.

Molo MP Kuria Kimani said there were issues that had come up during the past three BBI meetings held in regions perceived as opposition strongholds that had not been addressed in the first document.“We have more issues than what was given at Bomas. Mombasa led by example. (There were) many issues raised by the coastal people that are not in the BBI.

As Jubilee leaders, we also have to consolidate the views of our people on what they want the BBI to address,” he said.Mr Kimani further asked elected leaders to spearhead BBI meetings in their respective areas to ensure issues specific to their constituents are well articulated.

Kimani added that in previous meetings, Jubilee leaders had not been treated as equals, which made them feel that there was need to organise their own meetings.“They shall not necessarily be parallel meetings. We want all regions involved. The past three meetings turned out to be more NASA-led. As Jubilee, we also have a responsibility to sensitise our people. We shall not wait for them to organise meetings for us,” said Kimani


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