Kenyan Ruling Party Sidelines Vice President in Dynastic Merger

(Bloomberg) -- The scions of two of Kenya’s most powerful families agreed to unite their political parties and made appointments that further sideline Vice President William Ruto.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ruling Jubilee Party will form a coalition with the Kenya African National Union, headed by Gideon Moi. The men are the sons of Kenya’s first two rulers -- Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Arap Moi -- who’s led East Africa’s biggest economy for almost four decades.

The alliance deepens a fissure within Jubilee that’s pitted members allied with Kenyatta against supporters of Ruto, who is seeking to replace his boss at the next election in 2022. Moi has previously signaled he plans to run for president.

Following the coalition accord, Jubilee named Kanu’s Samuel Poghisio as its new Senate majority leader, replacing Kipchumba Murkomen. Irungu Kang’ata takes over from Susan Kihika as chief whip in the Senate, according to an emailed statement from Kenyatta’s office. Both Murkomen and Kihika back Ruto.

While Kenyatta and Ruto were previously political opponents, they joined forces and won elections in 2012 despite International Criminal Court indictments for alleged crimes against humanity. Both cases were dropped for lack of evidence. They won re-election in 2017 in a victory bitterly contested by opposition leader Raila Odinga.

The tie-up with Kanu will boost the number of Kenyatta’s supporters in the nation’s parliament, enabling him to more easily deliver on his development agenda including improved health, housing, food supply and manufacturing, said Dismas Mokua, a Nairobi-based independent political analyst. Some of Jubilee’s leaders have been openly hostile and critical of Kenyatta in the Senate since his rapprochement with Odinga two years ago.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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