Split Widens in Kenya’s Ruling Party With Leadership Changes

(Bloomberg) --

A rift within Kenya’s ruling party deepened as it made changes to its leadership in the face of opposition by Deputy President William Ruto.

The appointment of five people as members of the National Management Committee came in a May 2 statement by Secretary-General Raphael Tuju in the Saturday Standard newspaper. When the plan was first made public last month, Ruto said some party members were “attempting to fraudulently institute illegal changes.”

The feud is the latest sign of deepening factionalism within Jubilee that pits members allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta against supporters of Ruto, who is seeking to replace his boss at the next election in 2022. Ruto’s relationship with Kenyatta has deteriorated since March 2018, when the president agreed a rapprochement with opposition leader Raila Odinga, who also has presidential ambitions.

“The bun-fight over changes to Jubilee’s National Management Committee is further evidence that President Kenyatta’s relationship with his deputy is breaking down irretrievably,” said Louw Nel, a political analyst at Paarl-based NKC Africa Economics. “The real battle lines will be drawn once Covid-19 allows Jubilee to hold internal elections as they should have done by the end of March.”

Ruto’s spokesman didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment sent by mobile phone.

The Jubilee Party was created by merging several political parties to help Kenyatta win re-election in 2017 for a final five-year term. The management committee supervises Jubilee’s affairs, and Ruto needs to retain influence over the body to help him secure the presidential nomination for the next election.

While Tuju is allied to Kenyatta, Jubilee Deputy Secretary-General Caleb Kositany is a Ruto supporter. Kositany said in a statement that the notice on the management changes was “null and void” because it wasn’t “sanctioned by the National Executive Committee” as required by party rules.

Tuju said those who don’t agree with the changes should seek legal redress, the Sunday Nation newspaper reported. Kenyatta hasn’t publicly commented on the matter.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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