Deputy President William Ruto‘s new political machine, the United Democratic Alliance, is now fighting to stop its divorce from the ruling Jubilee Party.
In a surprise turn of events, UDA has written to the Registrar of Political Parties saying appropriate arbitration processes needed to be undertaken to resolve the dispute.
The letter came just a day after several allies of the DP dared Jubilee to kick out UDA from their coalition pact, saying they were ready to “pay the ultimate price”.
“The relevant organs of the coalition parties shall undertake the appropriate arbitration processes in a bid to resolve the dispute and update you of the outcome thereof,” UDA secretary-general Veronica Maina wrote in a letter dated April 22.
It is was not clear whether Maina has reached out to her Jubilee counterpart, Raphael Tuju, informing him of UDA’s wish to have their political squabbling sorted out through arbitration.
Jubilee has insisted that a coalition with the Party of Development and Reforms, now UDA, is untenable.
This means that the fate of elected leaders who have been associating with the party now hangs in the balance.
The Political Parties Act does not allow an elected leader to champion the interests or policies of another party. It can be a ground for removal and a by-election called.
Maina in her letter said that UDA politicians holding office should continue occupying their seats until the fate of the coalition is determined.
“Meantime, all parliamentarians holding office pursuant to the coalition agreement and in particular the Deputy Majority Leader Senator Fatuma Dullo should continue holding office until such a time as the disputes arbitration panel shall determine the fate of the coalition,” Maina added.
Among those who were elected on PDR ticket include Dullo and Wajir Woman Representative Fatuma Gedi.
Tuju on the other hand suggested members of the dissolved coalition should not be subjected to fresh election.
“However and without prejudice, all members of the dissolved coalition holding leadership positions in the assemblies shall continue serving as such,” he said in his letter.
He nonetheless insisted that Jubilee’s National Management Committee, after considering the prevailing political and legal hurdles facing the proposed coalition, found it improper and untenable to complete the formulation of the coalition.
In his letter to the RPP dated April 19, Tuju said Jubilee had decided to pull out of any further negotiations intended to complete the coalition process as envisaged in the Political Parties Act and to cease engagement with UDA officials and symbols.
The fate of the allies of the Deputy President could be hanging in the balance should the coalition process collapse.
Ruto allies have been defending their association with UDA, saying it is a Jubilee partner.
The law bars members of any party from championing the interests of another outfit or associating with a different political ideology.
With the collapse of the coalition process slowly becoming a reality, fresh polls may be inevitable but Ruto allies have insisted that they are ready to pay the ultimate price including defending their parliamentary seats in by-elections.
The emboldened allies have even stated that they will not waste time challenging the party’s decision in court.
“Some of us are ready to even go and defend our seats, let them proceed and do whatever they want,” Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi said.
Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro said the President’s wing of Jubilee was at liberty to continue with the process to divorce UDA.
“A divorce would be a sigh of relief. They have done the worse. We are ready for the worst. Our political future is in UDA and we have no time for what they are trying to do,” Nyoro said.
But UDA seems not eager to walk that road, hence the move to start an arbitration process to resolve the dispute.
Maina said UDA after receiving communication from the RPP declared a dispute, as provided for in the coalition agreement deposited with the RPP on 30 May 2018, in compliance with Section 10 (4) of the Political Parties Act No. 11 of 2012, Schedule 3.
The party noted that it was in receipt of a copy of letters referenced RPP/FRP/027/Vol. III (26) and another one referenced RPP/FRP/027/Vol. III (27) addressed to the secretary general of Jubilee Party and copied to Maina, dated 21 April, 2021.
Soy MP Caleb Kositany, a close ally of Ruto, has already paid the price for championing the interest of UDA.
Last month, Kositany was kicked out of Jubilee leadership when he lost his deputy secretary-general position and was replaced by Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny.
Other vocal supporters of UDA are Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and MPs Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Didmus Barasa (Kimilili) and Nixon Kirir (Lang’ata).
In the letter, Tuju said all UDA officials that were engaged in the coalition discussions have been changed and new officials “have exhibited hostility” by actively fielding candidates in areas outside the original regions covered by the cooperation.
“There being no harmonisation of our policy and vision, we have found ourselves as strange bedfellows especially with the UDA’s use of their identity as hustlers which has a negative dictionary meaning and connotation,” he stated.
Tuju noted that in the run-up to the 2017 elections, Jubilee entered a cooperation agreement with UDA in West Pokot, Wajir, Isiolo, Garissa and Mandera counties.
According to the Political Parties Act, political parties may sign coalition agreements before elections (pre-election coalitions) or after elections (post-election coalitions).