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Murathe bows to pressure over Ruto bid remark

PD Team @PeopleDailyKe

The storm in Jubilee Party over the 2022 succession intrigues claimed its first scalp yesterday when party Vice chair David Murathe resigned, just weeks after he launched attacks against Deputy President William Ruto.

Murathe yielded to pressure from party members to resign, a day after he declared that he would move to the Supreme Court to block Ruto from running for the Presidency in the next election.

A top Jubilee party official told the People Daily Murathe was asked to step down by “powers that be”. “Pressure was too much on him. He had to resign otherwise things were going to turn from bad to worse,” said the source.

It also emerged that the ruling party will soon convene a Parliamentary Group meeting to discuss Murathe’s conduct.

Addressing a press conference hours after his remarks on Saturday that he would move to the Supreme Court to block Ruto from contesting for the presidency in 2022, Murathe said he had decided to step down.

He insisted he would be seeking an advisory opinion from the Supreme Court on whether Ruto is eligible to vie for the presidency in 2022.

Murathe further said the views he expressed both in Rarieda and Vihiga were personal and not the position of the party but insisted that he stood by what he said.

Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri accused Murathe of sowing discord among Kenyans and overstepping his mandate. Photo/RAPHAEL MUNGE

“I am not comfortable with Ruto as President because of his character and in is tenure as Deputy President because of corruption allegations against him,” Murathe said. Since December, Murathe has engaged in a sustained attack against the VP.

Murathe on Saturday claimed the Constitution bars Ruto from vying for the presidency since his term had expired after having served as a deputy president for two terms.

But his argument was dismissed by Kamotho Waiganjo, a constitutional lawyer who said Article 148, which Murathe was quoting, was clear that Ruto is only barred from contesting for the position of a deputy president and not the presidency, after having served two terms.

“Lets look for political arguments against Ruto but not confuse Kenyans with constitutional arguments. Let us not weigh down our courts with arguments, which are of political nature. We cannot use the courts to stop a person from vying. It will be a serious misuse of the courts,” said Waiganjo.

On the much-talked Memorandum of Understanding between President Uhuru and Ruto, Murathe said: “If they allege there was an MoU to support Ruto, let those claiming to produce it.”

Majority of party MPs who spoke yesterday warned that Murathe’s statements were likely to cause division in the party.

Bahati Member of Parliament Kimani Ngunjiri fired the first salvo, calling for the party to hold national elections to pave way for “sober” officials who would steer the party forward.

Ngunjiri called for the removal of Murathe as a party official accusing him of preaching discord among Kenyans and overstepping his mandate.

Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen dismissed Murathe’s statement, saying doing so would be engaging in a pig’s fight, adding that the party NEC where he sits had not spoken on the matter. “We do not want to create a monster out of nothing. I think conmen and thieves have found a voice. To us in Jubilee is a non-issue,” said Murkomen.

Close allies of Ruto in North Rift region said they would not let Murathe’s sentiments scuttle the party’s unity. Led by Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, said they were in Jubilee party to stay and that they would fight from within to ensure DP ascends to the country’s top seat.

Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi condemns Murathe’s statement in Eldoret, yesterday. Photo/JIMMY GITAKA.

Nyeri Town MP, Ngunjiri Wambugu, a staunch opponent of Ruto, made an about-turn terming Murathe’s statement dangerous to cohesion in the party.

“The statement puts Murathe in conflict with Uhuru based on comments he made on Ruto and the 2022 presidential election.

The fact that he has continued to sustain his position despite being asked to stop shows a man who is defiant and pursuing his own agenda independent from that of his boss,” said Wambugu.

In Nakuru, Ngunjiri said Kenyans never voted for Murathe in the 2017 elections and that he and Raphael Tuju have no moral authority to speak on behalf of the Presidency.

“We can now see signals of discord through the statements by Murathe. It is causing unnecessary tensions in the Rift valley. I will petition party members to hold elections as soon as possible to remove him from his post,” said Ngunjiri.

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua questioned why Murathe chose to discuss party matters in public and in particular in opposition-held regions.

Ngunjiri took issue with Uhuru whom he accused of being silent on the utterance by Murathe saying that he has failed to address the simmering divisions in the party by getting someone who can authoritatively speak on behalf of the party.

In support for the Deputy president, Ngunjiri threatened to call for demonstrations in the Rift valley to push for a presidential election in support for democracy noting that Ruto should not be victimised for his presidential ambitions.

And in Mt Kenya region, leaders reacted to Murathe’s utterances with fury. Led by Kieni MP Kanini Kega the leaders termed Murathe’s comments as inconsequential and of no relevance to the people of Central region since he was not elected.

“We as Central leaders want to state categorically that Murathe comments should not misconstrued to mean that he is speaking for us,” he said.

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro said the likes of Murathe were shouting at the rooftops so that they could be noticed.

Kangema MP Muturi Kigano said Murathe’s comments carried no weight as the electorate are the ones to decide whom to vote for come 2022.

Kirinyaga deputy governor Peter Ndambiri and Gichugu MP Gichimu Githinji termed Murathe’s statement as unfortunate.

Laikipia deputy Governor John Mwaniki dismissed Murathe’s threat to go to court to block Ruto vying for Presidency in 2022.

Laikipia County assembly majority leader Peter Thomi said Murathe should be left alone to speak on his behalf and not for the party.

Stories by Antony Mwangi, Roy Lumbe, Wistone Cheseremi, Githinji Mwangi, Wangari Njuguna and Paul Ndungu.

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