Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka has defied President Uhuru Kenyatta and Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition flagbearer Raila Odinga to launch his own protest State House bid.
The former vice-president stood his ground that he be named Mr Odinga’s running mate, but when it was made clear that the post was going to Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, he said the outfit should forget his support.
Not even the dangling of a Chief Cabinet Secretary position could soften Mr Musyoka’s resolve.
The Nation has pieced together accounts of personal meetings with Mr Odinga and even a State House meeting chaired by President Kenyatta, all of which could not break the deadlock.
The Sunday evening State House meeting, we gather, brought together the President, Mr Odinga, Mr Musyoka and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi. However, even after hours of the meeting, Mr Musyoka was adamant he would not settle for anything less than a running mate post.
Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior said Mr Odinga had visited Mr Musyoka’s Karen home three days ago to persuade him to support his running mate choice, Ms Karua. It is then that the matter was escalated to President Kenyatta who called the four for a meeting. Still there was no deal.
This then forced Mr Odinga to once again follow the former vice-president to his home on Sunday night to try to talk him out of his hard line stance.
“At the meeting, Mr Moi supported Kalonzo’s insistence on being the running mate even though Raila insisted on Martha. But Kalonzo maintained that the position had been reserved for him and so he told the other leaders that it was a goodbye,” said the senator.
But even after this, the Azimio presidential candidate’s camp did not give up and still tried to send emissaries to the former vice-president yesterday to join the team in unveiling their running mate at KICC.
“Even today our party leader has been receiving numerous calls from Azimio trying to have him change his mind to no avail,” said Mr Kilonzo.
Mr Musyoka confirmed the talks, saying Mr Odinga went to his home after his Mombasa rally at the weekend to persuade him to support his choice of the former Gichugu MP but he declined.
“From Mombasa he came to my home to try and convince me to accept his choice but we did not agree as I said, ‘let us sleep over it.’ Sunday night, we were again at it and we did not again agree. And this is why we agreed that he will name Martha and I will also name my running mate,” Mr Musyoka disclosed yesterday.
Nonetheless, Mr Kilonzo said they sensed that the running mate position had already been decided when the panel of eminent persons ranked the three candidates presented to Mr Odinga.
“The issue became a little clear after the interview. The minute the rankings were done, it was obvious. What would have Raila done after the panel had put Kalonzo as number two?” Mr Kilonzo asked.
He said that Mr Musyoka had been assured there would be no rankings in the interview during an earlier meeting at State House, which made him accept to face the panel.
“The brief was that the panel was to pick the top three without ranking them and submit to Raila. If that wasn’t the case then he would have declined to attend the interviews,” he said.
And yesterday, Mr Musyoka announced that he will fly the Wiper party ticket in the August presidential polls, with Narok senator hopeful Andrew Sunkuli as his running mate.
Mr Musyoka ran in 2007, emerging third with 879,903 votes, after which he was named President Mwai Kibaki’s vice-president, and Mr Odinga as Prime Minister in a Grand Coalition government formed after the disputed outcome of the presidential vote. He would later back Mr Odinga, as his running mate, in the 2013 and 2017 elections.
Kitui, Makueni and Machakos, which form Mr Musyoka’s political base, gave Mr Odinga 900,405 votes out of the 1,068,684 who had registered in 2013. President Kenyatta polled 6.1 million (50.51 per cent) while Mr Odinga garnered 5.3 million (43.7 per cent).
This tally jumped to 968,437 votes in 2017. President Kenyatta got 8.2 million (54.2 per cent) while Mr Odinga garnered 6.7 million (44.7 per cent).
Given Mr Odinga has polled below 50 per cent of the national vote even with the overwhelming Ukambani bloc, the coalition’s equation without this support could be undermined in this year’s election, with the number of registered voters in the three counties now at 1.7 million.
Mr Musyoka’s run is thus seen as an attempt to force a run-off, in which he would have more bargaining power.
But Mr Odinga’s strategists argue he will make up for the difference with the expected gains in the vote-rich Mt Kenya from where he has tapped Ms Karua.
The Wiper leader argued that he was pushed out of Azimio because of lack of good faith in the engagement in the Mr Odinga-led outfit, complaining of being treated to politics of deceit and betrayal.
He pointed out that since his declaration to support Mr Odinga for the third time, a lot of things have happened that have tended to negate that very spirit.
Citing the panel interview as one of them, he said he appeared before it out of humility but then afterwards he was kept in the dark.
Thereafter, the former premier made the decision to name Ms Karua as his running mate despite an agreement that it would be a collective choice involving the Azimio council.
The choice, Mr Kalonzo said, will be met with overwhelming opposition as Kenyans had assumed he was the automatic candidate for the position.
“And therefore, we have agreed to go our separate ways and compare notes as we move on. I wish him with his running mate well,” said Mr Musyoka at SKM Command Centre in Karen, Nairobi, accompanied by Mr Moi.
He said he will soon be hitting the ground running starting with the launch of his manifesto, which is pegged on a 24-hour economy, as well as the fight to rid the country of corruption. He added that he is offering an alternative between Kenya Kwanza Alliance and Azimio.
“For how long do people expect Kalonzo to be the one to sacrifice? We have sacrificed for too long. And as we speak, my name is before IEBC as a presidential candidate for the Wiper democratic movement,” he said.
Mr Musyoka said he is not going back and will remain firm together with his running mate Mr Sunkuli whom he settled on from a list of four possible candidates.
“And if not for OKA being in a legal complication in Azimio, I would have convinced my brother Gideon to be my running mate,” he said.
Mr Musyoka’s bid is littered with legal hurdles, top among them being whether he can legally run on a Wiper ticket after joining Azimio.
The Azimio coalition document blocks any party from leaving the outfit six months to the August poll and three months after.
Although legal hurdles face his bid, his allies say that they will push for impeachment of the Azimio agreement to free themselves of the quagmire.
“If the Azimio document is impeached, there will be nothing called Azimio because every party will go its own way,” said Matungulu MP Stephen Mule.
He added that if the coalition party was serious, they would have burned the midnight oil to persuade Mr Musyoka.
“The window for negotiation is closed. They have lost the battle. We are moving forward and we will hit the ground running by launching our manifesto and economic blueprint,” he said.
Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua, who was in the running mate vetting panel, supported his party leader’s decision to go it alone, saying he is exercising his democratic right and that there is no political agreement that supersedes the constitution.
“Azimio decided to pursue excitement instead of numbers. I can tell you for sure that on August 9, the name of Kalonzo will be on the ballot,” Mr Wambua said.