Prospects of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party and Mr Raila Odinga’s ODM joining forces for the next General Election have inched closer to reality after a team from both camps tabled their joint proposals to the two Handshake partners.
“A draft agreement, framework agreement has been finalised and it has been taken upstairs to the party leaders of Jubilee and ODM. The ball is actually in their court to determine whether they want some changes in that framework and when we can actually sign it,” a high ranking member of the Jubilee Party said.
Denis Onyango, Mr Odinga’s spokesman, confirmed that the document was on his boss’ table while secretary of the Jubilee Coalition Joint Parliamentary Group Aden Keynan said the Jubilee-ODM pact will soon be made public.
“The principals already have a draft document of the proposals,” Mr Keynan said before adding, “As to how and when we shall finalise this is our business, elections are still several months away and coalitions in this country are formed just around the election time.”
Sources familiar with its content separately told the Sunday Nation that it proposes to have Mr Odinga become the coalition’s presidential candidate as Jubilee nominates a running mate. The proposed deal only covers the presidency and power sharing, with parties allowed to field candidates for other seats.
For forfeiting the top job, Jubilee is expected to be compensated with key ministries should the alliance form government. The cooperation would extend to Parliament.
There is also a strong push to have Mr Odinga commit to only going for one term, then pave way for younger blood.
The President has been working to have party leaders Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya) and Gideon Moi (Kanu) rally behind Mr Odinga in next year’s polls. He has hosted them a number of times.
Mr Onyango’s hint that the design of the agreement is such that they are leaving room for other players to join gives credence to talk that the President and Mr Odinga are keen on cobbling a super alliance beat Deputy President William Ruto.
“We do have a vision and we do have a constitution. We will be fighting in the next elections to assert our position in the political arena. But again, a lot of things are subject to other discussions within the NMC (National Management Committee) and the national delegates who will inform us on what particular positions we will be going for,” Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju said yesterday.
President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga are expected to point out areas of adjustment to the technical committee and they will have the final say on the coalition pact.
While it is almost a given that Mr Odinga will fly the coalition flag, a lot of jostling has gripped the Jubilee side on who should be paired with the former premier to face off with other challengers. The names of Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo and former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth have been mentioned as possible candidates.
While Mr Tuju refused to divulge details of the pact, he said respective party organs would have the final say.
“I do not want to violate the confidentiality that I am sworn to in this matter. That is a decision of the NMC and the national delegates’ conference. It is not something any of us can talk about without getting a nod from those bodies,” he said.
With some within Jubilee against the coalition plans, especially in President Kenyatta’s Central Kenya backyard, Mr Keynan said outsiders were being used to sabotage the plan.
“We know those pushing for this narrative that the coalition has stalled are those who have left this party but still want to micromanage it. Can you concentrate on your house called UDA and do your business,” said My Keynan. “That’s a key issue to be handled by our party leadership and should not be of concern to our political detractors.”
But even as they forge ahead with the coalition plans, ODM is gravely concerned about the infighting within the ruling party. A stronger Jubilee is better for the cooperation, they argue. The worry stems from the feuding that has seen a good chunk of the party’s support base bolt out and work with DP Ruto.
After Jubilee’s NMC, the top decision-making organ on August 17 allowed its secretariat to formally engage with ODM in drawing up a framework agreement on a pre-election coalition arrangement, some members opposed the move, arguing there’s need to put the party in order before such an agreement is finalised.
There is fear among Jubilee members, especially in Mt Kenya region, that before President Kenyatta stamps his authority in the region, their careers could be on the line.
Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege insisted that Jubilee was yet to agree on such a deal.
“There was no such approval by Jubilee’s NMC on a merger with ODM,” she told Sunday Nation.
Gatanga MP Joseph Nduati also maintained that the Jubilee-ODM coalition is “not yet ripe,” as they first want to engage with the parties in Mt Kenya region before opening talks with other parties for a coalition deal.
“We still want to engage the parties within the region of Mt Kenya including those led by Mwangi Kiunjuri and Moses Kuria to form a big outfit so that when we negotiate, we do it when we are big enough and build a stronger coalition,” Mr Nduati said.
He said as legislators from Mt Kenya, where Jubilee is dominant, they want to strengthen it at the grassroots and revamp it before embarking on talks with other parties “including ODM which currently seems to be more organised.”
Nyeri Town MP Wambugu Ngunjiri said Jubilee will continue to hold coalition talks with any party that shares an ideology with it including “ODM, Wiper and Kanu among others”.
“This responsibility is being carried out by our party leader President Kenyatta, but the rest of us are focused a lot more on restoring the party’s lost glory after years of internal attacks from a faction led by our own deputy party leader William Ruto.”
“We intend to ensure that by the time the party leader is making the final agreements, our party is back to where it was in 2017; without the rebels,” Mr Ngunjiri said.
Nominated MP Maina Kamanda on his part claims that there could be a secret plot by some members of Jubilee Party to frustrate the coalition plans with ODM.
This comes barely two weeks after President Kenyatta hosted his allied Jubilee lawmakers at State House in Nairobi last Friday.
Mr Kamanda claimed that whereas President Kenyatta agreed to the plans to revamp the party, he was “concerned” about the push to replace Mr Tuju and Mr Murathe during the meeting.
Mr Kamanda told Sunday Nation that they have sensed a sinister motive in the push for Mr Tuju and Mr Murathe’s ouster, arguing there is need to investigate those pushing for their removal.
“They need to be investigated because we may have some people who want to take the leadership of the party and then sell it. This is a time for campaigns and you cannot trust anybody,” Mr Kamanda said.
Kieni MP Kanini Kega who has been leading a caucus of legislators pushing for leadership changes in the party insisted that their resolve to revamp the party and effect changes from the top leadership to the bottom was inevitable and must be done before any discussions on 2022 alliances are made.
“There has to be change, a total overhaul of Jubilee for us to survive. We are not saying that the officers who have been there have not performed. They did their part for four years and it’s high time now that we injected fresh leadership into Jubilee,” said Mr Kega. “Jubilee cannot survive as presently constituted.”
He said their caucus will once again meet in a fortnight with President Kenyatta to get his final word on the planned changes. Mr Kega also denied claims he was eyeing Mr Tuju’s seat, noting that for the survival of the Jubilee elected leaders, there must be change of leadership in the party.