ODM leader Raila Odinga received a major boost on Friday after two coalitions backing him announced that they had filed an application to form a party.
Azimio la Umoja and One Kenya Alliance coalitions will now be part of an entity called Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition Party.
Announcing the formation of the party were secretaries-general from various outfits who addressed the press in Nairobi. Among them was Edwin Sifuna (ODM), Jeremiah Kioni (Jubilee), Nick Salat (Kanu), and Shakilla Abdalla (Wiper).
Revelation of the name was an indicator that the grumbling that was emanating from Wiper party had been taken care of. Earlier yesterday, Wiper officials had told the Saturday Nation that the delay in including “One Kenya” in the party name was a sign that parties were not willing to abide by earlier agreements.
Kathiani MP Robert Mbui (Wiper) had said: “My party leader is asking a simple question: If even just a name agreed upon cannot be honoured, what about other areas like sharing of positions in government?”
Change of tune
The worries in the Wiper camp appeared to have been addressed at the announcement of the joint party, with Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua, one of those who had questioned the commitment to the earlier deal, being present at the afternoon briefing and he signalled a change of tune.
“Our presence here is in itself a statement that Wiper is firmly on the table with colleagues in the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party,” said Mr Wambua.
Ms Abdalla read the statement on behalf of the secretaries-general, saying they had appended signatures to three coalition documents that included a deed of agreement and an application form “for effecting the registration of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party”.
She added that they had also signed a coalition declaration in which all the parties “formally endorse the Right Honourable Raila Odinga as the coalition’s sole presidential candidate”.
However, the issue of a running mate – one that Wiper is also laying stake to – was not addressed at the presser. The leaders who spoke, however, repeated the message of selflessness and not asking what is in it for anyone.
“We want to reiterate our commitment to the unity, peace, stability and prosperity of this nation as espoused in the vision of this coalition,” Ms Abdalla said.
Mr Salat noted: “From here, we will speak with one voice. We will act with one objective and we will give our team leader the necessary support, and our team leader here being the Right Honourable Raila Amolo Odinga.”
Today, the coalition heads plan to hold a rally in West Pokot then head to Turkana on Sunday and Monday. Pokot South MP David Pkosing said at the press conference that he was proud to be the “host of the first day of a series of political rallies in West Pokot”.
Mr Sifuna made reference to the past disagreements within the Nasa coalition and noted that those were now in the past.
“I thank One Kenya Alliance leaders for showing bravery and patriotism in that, even though there have been differences in the past between the parties, especially in Nasa (we are now together),” said the ODM official.
Mr Sifuna further noted that ODM had “had a handshake” with Wiper leaders.
Earlier, some Wiper leaders had said that they would only join the campaign trail if the grey areas are addressed by President Kenyatta, Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka.
“We want to get an assurance that what will be agreed upon will be honoured. You know once bitten twice shy. My party leader is not getting any younger and he is seeing that he is being boxed into a corner,” Mr Mbui said.
Another issue that was causing unease in Mr Musyoka’s camp was the feeling that Mr Odinga was elevating Kitui governor Charity Ngilu, Makueni’s Kivutha Kibwana and Machakos Alfred Mutua at the expense of the Wiper leader.
Mr Kioni, while speaking at the presser, made reference to President Kenyatta’s involvement in the formation of the coalition party.
“I’ll say that the President has guided us by signing into the document, not because of what there is for anyone of us, or for any one of the parties, but because of what this movement stands for, for Kenyans,” said the Jubilee secretary-general.
In January, President Uhuru Kenyatta assented into law the Political Parties (Amendment) Bill that allowed for registration of coalitions as political parties. The Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition Political Party may be among the first to be registered under that dispensation.