Former President Uhuru Kenyatta has declared that he will not retire from active politics, signalling a protracted cold war with his successor, William Ruto.

Sunday Nation has established that the former Head of State, who has taken a low profile since leaving office in August last year, has vowed to hold on to his position as leader of the Jubilee party, even at the cost of losing his retirement perks.

An angry Mr Kenyatta, our sources intimated, rubbished Friday’s Jubilee party meeting in Nakuru that expelled his close political allies, Vice Chairman David Murathe and Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni.

The retired President also lashed out at the faction of Jubilee officials who announced that the former ruling party would pull out of the Raila Odinga led Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition, stating instead that the MPs and officials who have declared support for President Ruto would be expelled from the outfit.

“Those who went to State House and later convened an illegal meeting in Nakuru should immediately resign from my party. They did not invest anything in this party and were elected on the basis of my goodwill,” President Kenyatta is quoted as saying on Friday when he spoke with his close allies.

Yesterday, while addressing the public in Luanda market shortly after attending Prof Magoha’s burial, Mr Kenyatta took a swipe at President Ruto, saying Mr Odinga had the country’s best interests at heart.

“I am retired, but I am not tired. I might be out of office… but I am fully behind Raila. If he tells me we go this way, we will. I supported him in 2022, and I will back him because he is an honest man out to unite Kenya. I am not looking for any seat, but it is my right to back Raila,” Mr Kenyatta said in Luanda, Vihiga County.New battlefront

This marks the biggest escalation in the tiff with his successor and former deputy of 10 years, with whom he had a bitter falling out in his last term in office.

Mr Kenyatta argues that the conveners of the Nakuru Jubilee meeting had no powers to do so as such an event could only be considered at a properly-constituted National Executive Council (NEC) meeting.

But it is his vow not to quit his post as Jubilee party leader, even at the risk of losing his close to Sh700 million retirement perks allocated this year, that the former Head of State has opened a new battlefront with this successor, Dr Ruto.

President Kenyatta backed Mr Odinga for the presidency in the August 2022 polls, and yesterday insisted the former premier is still “my party leader”, during Prof Magoha’s burial in Siaya County.

Close allies of the former President intimately aware of the Friday night discussion the former Head of State had with confidants yesterday told Sunday Nation that he has indicated a resolve to ring-fence Jubilee party and guard it against co-option into the ruling Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

“I’m ready to go round the country now. I am not seeking any position. For harambee, a meat session, a party. I will come. Please follow Raila politically,” Mr Kenyatta told Luanda residents.

The bid to take back control of Jubilee, currently under siege from President Ruto who has secured the backing of at least 30 party MPs, as well as officials, is likely to deepen the political gulf between the country’s two senior-most politicians.

From a party with nearly 190 National Assembly members, 25 senators and governors, Jubilee now has 28 National Assembly legislators, three senators, and one governor.

State House this week said 30 MPs, including Mr Kanini Kega, attended the meeting.

The President Ruto-leaning MPs and officials had pegged their shift of allegiance to Kenya Kwanza Alliance on the expected retirement of Mr Kenyatta next month, based on the requirement for a former Head of State to cease holding political office six months after exiting office.

This means that the new resolve by Mr Kenyatta complicates President Ruto’s game plan and gives fresh impetus to Mr Odinga, equally under a Ruto-led siege in his Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party, and who has vowed not to recognise him as president and to keep his opposition coalition intact.

“A retired president shall not hold office in any political party for more than six months after ceasing to hold office as president,” Section 6(1) of the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act states.

That date for Mr Kenyatta is on March 13, having handed over power on September 13 last year.Blocking benefits

The Act provides that the National Assembly may initiate a motion to block a retired president from accessing his retirement benefits on grounds of active involvement in politics.

For such a motion to sail through, the 349-member House has to marshal votes of not less than two-thirds of the members.

By Kenyans

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