Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Friday, 21 Oct 2016 20:32 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress took the first step towards joining the CORD coalition this evening with a resolution allowing the party leaders to initiate dialogue with CORD leaders. The party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and Parliamentary Group that met in Machakos resolved that Mr Mudavadi should unite with other opposition leaders in order to ensure the opposition wins the upcoming elections.
The party consequently appointed a team of officials to begin talks with other opposition leaders with a view to striking modalities for a coalition for the 2017 elections. It has been reported in recent days that CORD leaders had reached out to Mr Mudavadi and other leaders outside the Jubilee mainstream such as Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi with proposals for an alliance reportedly called the National Super Alliance.
“The National Super Alliance (NASA) or Muungano Maalum is a serious debate we would like to engage in particularly with those in the opposition. The whole idea is to have a more inclusive and robust political dispensation,” Mr Mudavadi said after his party's meeting. His party's secretary general Geoffrey Osotsi said:
“Muungano Maalum is a space for all those against misrule by Jubilee which is characterized by condoning rampant corruption; a ruinous and extravagant economic model of borrowing to eat while protecting economic saboteurs; arrogant ethnic exclusionism; and ruining our youth with the hustler mentality while stealing billions meant to empower the same youth.”
It is customarily for Kenya’s leaders to enter new alliances in the run-up to general elections. Mr Mudavadi himself had split from the opposition party ODM, led by his former ally Raila Odinga, ahead of the 2013 general elections. Current vice president William Ruto was also a member of Mr Odinga’s party until that time, when he left to craft an alliance with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
In response to Messrs. Mudavadi and Ruto’s departures, Mr Odinga cobbled together an alliance with then vice president Kalonzo Musyoka to form the CORD alliance, leaving Mr Mudavadi as a fringe third party candidate who came a distant third in the elections and has struggled to maintain a national following ever since.
While there has been talk in recent days of the National Super Alliance being mooted by the opposition leaders, a source at the Raila Odinga secretariat informed the Kenya Free Press that no concrete agreements had been made about the structure of the new alliance. The source said Mr Odinga had indicated to the prospective newcomers that CORD would prefer to maintain its 2013 leadership hierarchy with Mr Odinga being the presidential candidate, Mr Musyoka as the vice presidential running mate and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetabgula as the group’s leader in the Senate.
Accordingly, the source added, Governor Ruto and Senator Moi had committed to joining the alliance and retaining their current roles rather than seeking new positions. Mr Mudavadi, however, had been offered the position of Nairobi governorship, and his last feedback to Mr Odinga tendered one week ago was was that he would “consider it.”
“Mr Mudavadi has indicated unambiguously to Mr Odinga that he would be happy to take the Nairobi governorship as part of a new opposition alliance,” the source said, adding that the sticking point at this point was power-sharing in western Kenya, where Mr Mudavadi would like his ANC to be given preferential treatment in the nomination of some candidates for governorships, senators and MPs positions.
Among the demands Mr Mudavadi had made was that his coalition allies should reserve the governorships of Kakamega and Vihiga for his party members. The demands overlap similar claims by Mr Wetangula who sources said had lined up allies for the governorships of Bungoma, Kakamega, Vihiga and Trans Nzoia, hence the increasingly frosty relations between the Ford Kenya leader and Mr Odinga.
Mr Wetangula has also demanded the zoning of a number of parliamentary seats in the three counties for Ford Kenya, against ODM's wishes. So heated has been the horse-trading over western Kenya seats, sources said, that Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya, an ally of Mr Odinga's, had 'planted' candidates in all constituencies that have been demanded by Mr Wetangula. These include Lugari, Ikolomani, Malava, Mumias West, Mumias East and Matungu constituencies.
Mr Odinga has also, according to reports, hesitated to discuss Mr Wetangula's claims directly, preferring that the parties develop consensus among the various candidates for those seats. By contrast, the CORD leader has been receptive to Mr Musyoka's demand about his not fielding ODM candidates in Lower Eastern, selected constituencies in North Eastern, Coast, and potentially some constituencies in Nairobi being earmarked by Wiper Party.
Mr Musyoka had also whittled down his demand for Wiper to get either of the governor, senator or women's representative positions in Nairobi, perhaps in anticipation of the long-negotiated deal with Mr Mudavadi over Nairobi. His party prefers the allocation to it of at least six parliamentary seats and a number of MCA positions, according to proposals that were exclusively reported by the Kenya Free Press last month.
Even though sources indicated that Messrs. Mudavadi, Ruto and Moi had committed themselves to working with Mr Odinga, the alliance remains a work in progress and could still depend significantly on Jubilee's own outreach to some of the leaders. It is believed in ODM circles that Mr Moi had reached to President Uhuru with an offer that his party Kanu, which refused to dissolve with other coalition parties last month, be recogised as an integral part of the governing coalition.
The sources said that President Uhuru welcomed the idea but counselled that the two sides should wait until the heat over dissolution of parties had subsided for Jubilee to explore ways of accommodating other supportive political entities. It is on the basis of that response from Jubilee, the sources reported, that Mr Moi reached out to CORD, perhaps in an effort to raise the stakes for Jubilee.
DP Ruto is expected to veto any proposal to accommodate an indepent Kanu in Jubilee, fearing the backlash of his party members and the likelihood that Kanu would provide a home for Jubilee rebels in the Rift Valley.