Prospects for the formation of a broader coalition ahead of next year’s General Election became evident yesterday following the rare unity of opposition leaders during the Wiper Democratic Movement convention in Nairobi.
The National Delegates Congress (NDC) endorsed Mr Kalonzo Musyoka as the party’s presidential flag bearer during an event that saw former National Super Alliance (Nasa) leaders reunite and share a platform with representatives of President Kenyatta, who is working to ensure the team rallies behind a joint presidential candidate.
Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader Raila Odinga expressed optimism that he could still join hands with his former partners who are now in the One Kenya Alliance (OKA).
Speakers at the colourful event rooted for a joint presidential flag bearer as they warned the party leaders to “unite or perish.”
Mr Musyoka, fellow OKA leaders Musalia Mudavadi (Amani National Congress), Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya), Gideon Moi (Kanu) and Cyrus Jirongo (UDP) were joined by Narc leader Charity Ngilu and Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju.
Unity of purpose
Mr Musyoka, Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula severed links with Mr Odinga leading to the collapse of Nasa. The three then teamed up with Mr Moi to form OKA although Moi’s Kanu is in a coalition agreement with Jubilee. The leaders have been meeting in forums convened by President Kenyatta, who is keen to rally them behind one candidate, who will take on Deputy President William Ruto. Delivering his acceptance speech following his endorsement by Wiper delegates, Mr Musyoka said he was glad the country had demonstrated unity of purpose at his fete.
“The whole country is here. I’m very proud of my party—the Wiper Democratic Movement—this afternoon. You’ve demonstrated the values and ethos of collective responsibility and inclusivity in all our affairs,” the Wiper party leader said.
Mr Tuju, who represented President Kenyatta, delivered his message for the leaders’ unity.
“I convey greetings from President Uhuru Kenyatta and I’m happy to see that there’s hope. Seeing my brother Gideon Moi, Mudavadi, Wetang’ula, Mama Rainbow Charity Ngilu and Baba [Mr Odinga],” Mr Tuju said. Mr Odinga, who is set to declare his presidential candidacy next month, said there was hope they will work together.
“We have come a long way with my brother Kalonzo Musyoka. We left Kanu together in 2002 and worked together in 2005 to defeat the Kilifi constitution, which was an alteration of the Bomas draft. We then formed ODM before Kalonzo formed Wiper to avoid confusion of the two Orange outfits,” Mr Odinga said, apparently trying to downplay the tussle for the Orange party in the lead up to the 2007 elections.
The ODM leader, however, criticised Mr Mudavadi’s ANC, which had earlier questioned why he had been invited to the meeting.
“I heard some people asking why I was invited. I want to tell them that Kalonzo and I are brothers. If your young brother has a wedding you don’t disappear, you attend and that’s why I’m here today,” Mr Odinga said.
Mr Moi said the unity displayed by the leaders yesterday will change the lives of Kenyans.
“We’re proud to walk with Kalonzo and Wiper in this journey,” said Mr Moi, who has also been endorsed by Kanu as its presidential aspirant. Ms Ngilu showered the Wiper leader with praises and urged him to unite with his colleagues for the sake of the country.
Mr Mudavadi underscored the need for democratic polls: “We want to see democracy in the election of all MCAs, woman representatives, senators, governors and the president.”
“I’ve no doubt that what Wiper has seen in you, Kenyans can also see,” Mr Wetang’ula said.
Mr Jirongo was heckled by delegates, forcing Mr Musyoka to call the meeting to order.
The Wiper NDC also approved various changes, including party leadership, party colours, change of name from Wiper Democratic Movement-Kenya to Wiper Democratic Movement and a new motto—One Kenya, One People.
They also approved the formation of the party summit, National Delegates Management committee and the coalition coordination committee.
“I want to tell you that the next President is seated here,” Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat said amid applause from delegates.