President William Ruto has announced that the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) will hold party elections in December this year in a move that is set to excite the political scene and cause ripples within the ruling party.
The President, while launching a UDA regional office in Nyeri on Saturday, said the elections will start at the grassroots level. Should they run successfully, the party will be the first one to conduct internal elections since the implementation of the Political Parties Act 2011.
Opposition supremo Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Party (ODM) was close to holding successful party polls in 2014 but the so-called ‘men in black’ stormed the venue and disrupted the elections.
The Jubilee party, in 2016, tried to conduct elections but ended up running them only at the county level which was marred by violence and infighting as the elected leaders tried to influence the process to have their preferred members ascend to the county positions.
While assuring the UDA members that the elections will be free, fair and transparent, Dr Ruto said the ruling party will have its members decide on who will hold party positions.
“Any leader aspiring to hold any party position must start socialising with the members since no one will be given the seat on a silver platter,” he said.
The Head of State said by conducting the elections, the ruling party seeks to eliminate tribalism and build a national party which will lead the country in strict adherence to its manifesto. “Members will vote for every office in our constitution in a strategy that seeks to unite community and interests in every corner of the country,” he said.
Secretary General Cleophas Malala said the exercise is geared towards making UDA the biggest political party in Kenya. While ruling out the possibility of entering into a pre-election coalition agreement with other parties in 2027, Malala maintained that out of the 14 political parties that formed a pact with UDA, seven have dissolved to join the ruling party and asked others to follow suit.
“We want one big united party in Kenya and that is why we urge other parties to fold and join us,” Malala said. The move may also lead to internal wrangles within the Kenya Kwanza coalition with partners like Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC) and National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ulas Ford Kenya staying put in a bid to secure their say in the coalition.
The two parties have insisted in the recent past that they do not intend to fold and form one formidable party. However, speaking in Nyeri, yesterday, UDA allied leaders continued to pile pressure on the coalition partners to dissolve their parties and join the ruling party.
Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro said the only way to sustain the continuity of government is through a strong party and asked their coalition parties to join UDA.
As UDA now prepares for grassroots elections, sibling rivalry amongst parties may explode as leaders fight for the party’s ticket.
UDA Secretary for Legal Affairs and Gatanga MP Edward Muriu said elected leaders are free to contest grassroots elections.
MPs automatically remain members of the National Delegates Council (NDC). “Additionally, all seats at the National Executive Council are up for grabs and to be elected, all the 3,600 delegates must vote to elect them,” Muriu said.
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The announcement comes three days after ODM’s National Executive Committee announced grassroots elections next year. ODM Chairman John Mbadi said the party will soon announce the dates for the exercise.