Kanu National Chairman Gideon Moi (right) and Nominated Senator Zipporah Kittony arrive at Lake Nakuru Lodge to attend the party’s National Executive Council meeting. [Photo: Kipsang Joseph/Standard]
Independence party Kanu has officially declared that it will support the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The party’s National Executive Council announced its backing for the President Thursday, following a day-long meeting at Lake Nakuru Lodge in Nakuru.
The frosty relations between Deputy President William Ruto and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi almost cost Uhuru the party’s support.
Kanu Secretary General Nick Salat has been a conspicuous figure at Opposition meetings, sparking fears the party was set to join the Opposition coalition.
According to sources at the meeting, members were categorical that they were supporting Uhuru but not Ruto whom they accused of openly disregarding the party and carrying a vendetta against former President Daniel arap Moi.
Mr Salat, who read out the resolution, said the party’s top organ took the position after intense deliberations.
“The deliberations were intense and at the end of the day, the majority carried the day,” said Salat.
The decision by the NEC deals a blow to the National Super Alliance (NASA), which has been courting the independence party.
Salat said he put up a case for NEC to support NASA but the majority decision won.
“I brought my case for the members to consider NASA but as you know we are democratic organ and the majority were for Uhuru’s re-election. That is democracy,” he said, adding that the party would however field candidates for all other elective posts.
Kanu chairman Gideon said he had consulted party members widely before Thursday’s NEC meeting.
“I have been consulting Kanu members on what direction we should take and today the NEC deliberated on the matter and settled on the decision to support the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta,” he said.
However, inside sources said the debate was between more than 20 members, some of whom pitched for the party’s support for Uhuru’s re-election as others rooted for NASA.
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The source said those opposing support for Uhuru in the coming elections had issues with the DP, who is seen as a stumbling block to Kanu’s advancement and open hate for the party chairman.
Ruto, the source said, was seen by most members as willing to do anything to destroy Kanu, its leaders and supporters, especially in the Rift Valley, in an effort to be seen as having command and being the only spokesperson for the Kalenjin community.
“Nobody had issues with the President,” said another NEC member.
Apart from insults directed at Gideon, Ruto recently asked Betting Control and Licensing Board Director Simon Chelugui to run against him for the Senate seat, which is seen as a direct affront to the son of the former president.
On NASA support, although some members, including Salat, put up a very strong case, it was knocked out because of the many principals angling for the same position.
“Members were of the opinion that supporting NASA was a long route to the presidency for Gideon, who members agree must make a stab at the presidency in 2022,” said a source.
“In the end, although Ruto was a big issue for members, NEC decided the discussions will be between Gideon and Uhuru, and not the DP, who is not party to the deal,” added another member privy to the discussions.
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The source said Kanu’s loyalty would be to the President, not Ruto.
The source also said although members were not told specifically what Kanu was going to get for supporting Uhuru, Gideon assured them that the party was going to reap big.
The decision by NEC comes after a series of meeting between former First Lady Mama Ngina and former President Daniel arap Moi at his Kabarak home, which was immediately followed by Uhuru’s visit to Kabarnet Gardens last week.
Among those who attended Thursday’s NEC meeting were senators John Lonyangapuo, Zipporah Kittony and Paul Njoroge.