ODM has pulled a surprise exit from the National Super Alliance (Nasa) and announced regional meetings from next week that sources said will culminate in the declaration of a Raila Odinga presidential candidature.
Days after Wiper and Amani National Congress (ANC) resolved to quit Nasa, Mr Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) called their rival’s bluff, becoming the third party whose withdrawal is needed to effectively dissolve Nasa.
With the leadership wrangles in Ford-Kenya, Wiper and ANC were in a dilemma as the coalition agreement requires the exit of three parties to collapse Nasa, which ODM gleefully helped fulfil. By collapsing Nasa, ODM officials said the party had been freed from a skewed agreement, such as demands not to field a presidential candidate next year.
Following the resolution by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), the party is now free to pursue a new pre-election coalition with President Kenyatta’s Jubilee, ODM officials said.
“We still hold that Nasa is the past. To further demonstrate this point, the NEC has today resolved to formally exit the Nasa coalition,” ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna announced after a four-hour meeting chaired by Mr Odinga at the Villa Rosa Kempinsky Hotel in Nairobi.
“We intend to embark on a programme to build new partnerships and extend the ongoing talks with our potential partners to the grassroots,” Mr Sifuna added.
Sources said President Kenyatta is expected to attend these meetings during which the two leaders will reinforce their unity agenda following their March 9, 2018 truce.
Although Mr Odinga is yet to declare his presidential candidature, sources said his supporters will take advantage of these forums to market him as the leader suitable to succeed President Kenyatta, which could culminate in his declaration at the end of next month at a major meeting in Nairobi.
The first meeting is planned next Friday in Kisii town where leaders from the six Nyanza counties — Kisii, Nyamira, Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori — will converge in a forum that will be addressed by President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.
“The following day on Saturday, August 7, the two principals will be in Kakamega where they will also meet leaders from Kakamega, Vihiga, Busia, Bungoma and Trans Nzoia counties,” said a source privy to the discussions yesterday.
From Western, the ‘Handshake’ tour is expected to move to Mombasa, and after traversing other regions for similar engagement, a final meeting will be held in Nairobi. Another source said they expect Mr Odinga to declare his presidential candidature before the end of next month.
The other Nasa principals — Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) and Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya) — have since announced they will form One Kenya Alliance (OKA).
The other Nasa affiliate party is Chama Cha Mashinani whose leader former Bomet governor Isaac Ruto has since joined deputy President William Ruto’s camp.
Yesterday, Wiper vice chairman Mutula Kilonzo Jnr termed the ODM exit from Nasa as a “clever tactic not to be left behind.”
“Nasa is officially as dead as a dodo. What is left are the spoils of war,” Mr Kilonzo told Nation. ODM chairman John Mbadi said the party settled the dispute on sharing of political parties’ funds with their former partners “to free ODM to fully focus on its future.”
Sources said the party was keen to shed off the Nasa tag which its other coalition partners had used to paint ODM as dishonest and open talks with new allies.
According to a source, the leadership positions in parliament were also shared to the disadvantage of ODM as the party ceded too much ground for their partners despite being the majority.
ODM is keen to secure President Kenyatta’s endorsement of their party leader as his preferred successor and to rely on his backing to make inroads in Mt Kenya.
Mr Sifuna acknowledged the party has had difficulties in getting support from Mt Kenya, but had an elaborate plan to win over the region.
“You cannot ignore such a big constituency given their numbers. [DP] Ruto has only taken the region by rhetoric with no proper plans for the area,” Mr Sifuna said.
Additional reporting by Samwel Owino