Kenya’s ruling party starts purge of Ruto, allies

Saturday November 06 2021
Jubilee Party

President Uhuru Kenyatta greeting Jubilee Party national delegates at the Bomas of Kenya in May 2017 when they endorsed his presidential candidature. FILE PHOTO | COURTESY


Kenya’s ruling Jubilee Party has launched a new offensive against rebel elements within its ranks, including Deputy President William Ruto.

Party officials and Members of Parliament loyal to President Uhuru Kenyatta who is also the party leader, announced Thursday plans to hold a national delegates conference later this month when Dr Ruto will be formally removed as deputy party leader.

A number of MPs who have publicly pledged affiliation to Dr Ruto’s breakaway UDA party could also be targeted in the new purge.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who has emerged as President Kenyatta’s preferred successor, is expected at the Jubilee conference as chief guest.

But the removal of Dr Ruto as deputy party leader is unlikely to affect his position as deputy president due to a constitutional firewall that protects the officeholder from being sacked by the president or removed on grounds other than mental incapacity or impeachment for gross violation of the supreme law.

Dr Ruto, who has fallen out with President Kenyatta over his Handshake deal with Mr Odinga and succession politics, has also resisted calls to resign for incessantly criticising the president’s policies publicly and campaigning for his own 2022 presidential bid on another party’s platform.


The president appeared to ramp up the pressure in August, challenging Dr Ruto to quit the government if he was unhappy. Some MPs have in the past broached the idea of an impeachment motion against the deputy president.

The deputy president’s campaign was seen to make the most of the State crackdown between August and September, when Interior ministry officials embarrassingly blocked Dr Ruto from flying out to Uganda for a private visit, downgraded his official security detail and disclosed details of his vast personal wealth in parliament.

At public rallies across the country, politicians loyal to the deputy president sought to portray him as a target of a political persecution campaign and foster a siege mentality in his supporters.

But the new zeal displayed by Jubilee officials, who have been largely bullied out of the political campaign platforms by their rivals in UDA in recent months, might yet signal a resumption of salvos aimed at scattering or weakening the Ruto camp.

The elected MPs allied to the president won’t be bothered much by the threats of expulsion from the ruling party due to the cumbersome legal process of removing a legislator and the risk of triggering mass by-elections with just nine months to the 2022 polls.

But their nominated or non-elected counterparts remain vulnerable.

In May, the party successfully recalled and replaced nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura having petitioned the Registrar of Political Parties to remove his name from the list of its members.

Mr Mwaura, a disability activist and Kenya’s first member of parliament with albinism, is a vocal ally of the deputy president.

Social media propaganda linked to Dr Ruto’s campaign has alleged in recent days that an ongoing graft clampdown at State agencies could target senior executives perceived to be close to the deputy president or funding his presidential bid.