The plans by three National Super Alliance (Nasa) parties to formally withdraw from the coalition may throw the outfits into an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) trap in the 2022 General Election.
Were Ford-Kenya to follow the decision of Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Movement and Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC) to exit Nasa, it will also mean the death of a clause requiring ODM to back one of the Nasa trio in the 2022 presidential elections.
“In the event of the renewal of the coalition agreement for a further term of five years, the coalition’s presidential candidate in the August 2017 elections shall not be eligible for nomination as a presidential candidate,” the agreement says in Article 10 (a), marked as an addendum.
The Nasa agreement denotes that the coalition will be deemed dead if at least three parties exit.
And now, ODM says it has been unshackled from the agreement, and stands a chance to renegotiate better terms were the pro-Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) team under President Uhuru Kenyatta to find themselves under the same roof in the race for State House next year.
“We are happy to let Nasa die so we can actually renegotiate, starting with being able to field a presidential candidate,” said a senior ODM official yesterday, who wanted to remain anonymous so as to freely discuss the ‘trap’.
“We are very happy to renegotiate this arrangement. I compare the current Nasa agreement to the Treaty of Versailles because it was extremely punitive on ODM.”
Though the parties have triggered the Nasa exit clause, ODM has agreed to release Sh153 million to the affiliate parties, including former Bomet governor Isaac Ruto’s Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM), which has joined Deputy President William Ruto.
Run for president
Although the former prime minister has not officially declared that he will make a fifth stab at the presidency, his recent moves, including outlining his economic agenda of transforming rural economies, is the clearest indication yet that he might run again.
The provision that Mr Odinga is only barred from vying for the top seat in the event of a renewal of the pact has given the ODM side a fresh push, with some of his key lieutenants now saying the party will be free to engage in fresh negotiations without being told that they should not field a presidential candidate.
Mr Musyoka, Mr Mudavadi and Senator Moses Wetang’ula were all waiting to benefit from the clause in the 2022 elections but with their pulling out of Nasa, they have given ODM a chance to go for the country’s top seat next year.
And Wednesday, ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna maintained that the dissolution of Nasa gives the party an opportunity to court new partners, including the same outfits, but outside the moribund coalition.
Cross paths again
“We are not worried, because we know our paths will cross again. As Kalonzo said, it is not a divorce but a renegotiation,” Mr Sifuna said, referring to Wiper leader Mr Musyoka’s declaration that the party was pulling out of Nasa but was still open for talks with ODM.
Wiper, ANC and Ford-Kenya said Wednesday ODM was free to join OKA but they should not come as senior partners.
Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo, who is also Wiper vice-chairman, told the Nation that OKA is open to negotiate with like-minded parties including ODM.
But he warned the Orange Party against demanding the presidential ticket in such an event.
“If ODM insists on fielding a presidential candidate, I am sure they (One Kenya Alliance principals) will not agree. They have said so several times. This cannot be negotiated, in my view,” he said.
ANC deputy party leader Ayub Savula said even though they are open to working with ODM, they will not allow them to field a presidential candidate.
“If they follow us in OKA, they must play second or third fiddle. We will not allow them to field a presidential candidate. They won’t come as senior principals but they will come as equal partners,” he told the Nation.
He insisted that of the pro-BBI principals, only Mr Mudavadi stood the best chance to beat Dr Ruto in 2022.
“If they make the mistake of endorsing Raila as the presidential candidate, we will lose again. The only card we have is Musalia Mudavadi,” he said, adding that if Nasa cannot be revived, its principals should form another alliance.
“Raila said he has only one bullet but he has changed to say he has a full magazine when we all know that it is empty. The only option is Musalia.”
Ford-Kenya deputy leader Richard Onyonka underscored that though the party had pulled out of Nasa, working with ODM in another coalition will mean that they are not allowed to produce a presidential candidate.
“Even if we pull out of Nasa, the agreement that ODM should not field a presidential candidate still stands. At the same time, we need to be reasonable and we need to understand that sometimes our democracy is very painful. Check what in reality we can do differently from last time,” Mr Onyonka said.
But the Kitutu Chache lawmaker called on the Nasa principals to find a way of working together, even if outside Nasa.
“I think the Nasa fraternity needs to sit down and engage openly and sincerely, which they have done before. Come up with a framework on how to win the next election,” he told the Nation Wednesday.
ODM, which has started 2022 coalition talks with the President Uhuru Kenyatta-led Jubilee Party, has already indicated that it is ready to engage in talks with other parties including Wiper, ANC and Ford-Kenya.
ODM chairman and Suba South MP John Mbadi had said ODM has left the door open for Mr Musyoka, Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang'ula.
“We cannot underestimate the support other Nasa principals have. We have to incorporate them in our team,” Mr Mbadi said in an interview.
Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju disclosed that since the main intention of President Kenyatta is to leave behind a united country, the talks will also happen with other political parties, like ANC, Wiper and Ford-Kenya.
“Our intention is to bring all Kenyans together. All Kenyans are organised in communities. Some of them have not organised themselves in tribes but also political parties. You cannot work with people from the Mulembe nation without reaching out to ANC boss Musalia Mudavadi,” he said recently.
The President, he said, had instructed them that they should not engage in talks with parties that want to exclude others.
“The only thing that the President is not going to accept, and he has told me several times, is that we are not going to be able to negotiate/discuss or have an alliance with a party that tells us that it has to be exclusively to us only,” he said.
“Because we do not want Kenya that is exclusive to any formation which is going to create the same problem we have at the moment or a duopoly of two tribes, which tribes to create hegemony over the rest.”