Raila Odinga to name deputy today as Wiper threatens walkout
Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential flag bearer Raila Odinga is set to name his running mate today, amid threats by the Kalonzo Musyoka-led Wiper party to pull out of the coalition and go it alone over the running mate impasse.
This came even as Mr Odinga yesterday styled the August 9 elections as a battle between the progressive forces versus the retrogressive team led by Deputy President William Ruto, who yesterday settled on Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua as his running mate.
Addressing a rally at the historic Kamukunji grounds where he unveiled the Azimio Nairobi team, the ODM leader laughed off the DP’s choice of Mr Gachagua as his deputy, noting Kenyans were now able to see the “forces of corruption grouping together”.
“On his side are suspects of the cemetery saga, the gold scandal and all that and tomorrow (today) we shall be unveiling our team of reformists ahead of the August elections,” Mr Odinga said.
But even as the Azimio leader exuded confidence that he will name the best running mate at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) and reveal a formidable lineup, Mr Musyoka’s team was jittery, warning the ODM leader against any attempts to ignore the Wiper leader.
Wiper Secretary-General Shakila Abdalla said the party will walk out of Azimio “so long as there is a breach of the agreement”.
“It is clear that Hon. Raila Odinga no longer wants to be President because Martha Karua will not bring him even 600,000 votes. He has to eat humble pie and support Kalonzo Musyoka as deputy if he wants to win,” said Makueni MP Dan Maanzo, an ally of the Wiper leader.
Mr Maanzo said that today he will join in court petitioners seeking to have Wiper withdraw from the Azimio coalition.
“We are still friends with Raila, but because these are the last days, it seems he has eyes but cannot see, he has ears but cannot hear, what do you do to somebody who has become like that?” asked the MP. “Raila without Kalonzo will never become president, simple.”
He added: “Raila has no votes in central Kenya, has lost a huge chunk of votes in coastal Kenya, he has lost Wakamba, Luhyas, he doesn’t have Kalenjins and Somalis, who does he have? It is not Wiper going to court but wananchi.
“As a lawyer, I will be in court tomorrow (today) morning to support them. As a lawyer who believes in what they are dealing with, I am going to join them in court. The idea is to impeach the Azimo agreement and every party goes its own way,” Mr Maanzo asserted.
He pointed out that the only reason Mr Musyoka forfeited his chance as a presidential candidate was to become Mr Odinga’s running mate “otherwise he is still a presidential candidate approved by Wiper NDC”.
“So what we want him to do is to also name a running mate and go to the ballot,” Mr Maanzo said.
Conditions for withdrawal
Even as Wiper seeks to exit Azimio and front Mr Musyoka, the Registrar of Political Parties Ann Nderitu has stated that as per the coalition agreement, constituent parties will remain within Azimio until they meet the conditions for withdrawal.
According to the Azimio agreement, no party can bolt out of the coalition at least six months to the August General Election. A member of the coalition party who intends to exit can only do so at least three months after the elections.
Even then, the party that wishes to exit can only do so after giving a 90-day notice to the coalition council.
“No party may withdraw from the coalition six months before the August 2022 General Election or within three months after the date of the said General Election,” the agreement states in Article 22.
Wiper party vice-chairman Mutula Kilonzo Jnr said that even though the Azimio exit clause is prohibitive and no one can leave, “our view as the Wiper legal team is that no one can limit Article 38 as a fundamental right”.
Article 38 of the Constitution of Kenya states: “Every citizen is free to make political choices, which includes the right to form, or participate in forming, a political party; to participate in the activities of, or recruit members for, a political party; or to campaign for a political party or cause.”
In view of this, Mr Kilonzo insisted, Mr Musyoka was ready to go up to the ballot if Mr Odinga does not name him his running mate.
“At the time they came up with a three legged stool - UK (President Uhuru Kenyatta) was chair, RAO (Mr Odinga) was the party leader, Steve (Mr Musyoka) was the deputy party leader.
“With that framework, there was no issue with the leadership. I have the paper that shows that clearly,” the Wiper vice-chair charged.
The backtracking to have Mr Musyoka as an ordinary member, he said, only opened the window for the infamous interviews for running mate candidates.
“For us as a party, when Kalonzo was persuaded not to register OKA and join Azimio as a principal, the issue was clear. We are indeed surprised and baffled by the turn of events. Our concern now is not just the running mate position, but how we will navigate the restless supporters of Kalonzo,” he said.
He went on: “He looks calm, but his supporters are very agitated. I am not surprised the announcement is being done on the last day. The next one day will have far reaching implications on this issue.”
Mr Kilonzo said a protest in Ukambani will have far-reaching consequences for Mr Odinga, adding that “many don't know we are helping Azimio; they imagine we are doing this to mislead Kalonzo but we are only avoiding a runaway vote to UDA”.
It is not clear whether Kanu, chaired by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, was on the same wavelength as Wiper, as the two leaders held talks in Nairobi yesterday, with details of the meeting remaining scanty.
Mr Moi, who had seconded Mr Musyoka as Kanu’s preferred running mate for Mr Odinga, did not respond to queries by the Nation yesterday on whether he supports Wiper’s attempts to leave Azimio.
At Kamukunji grounds, speakers steered clear of the Wiper threats and focused on DP Ruto, whom they dared to a political duel come August.
Azimio Secretary-General Junet Mohamed, his ODM counterpart Edwin Sifuna and Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe said Kenya cannot be led by two thieves, in an apparent reference to Dr Ruto and his deputy Mr Gachagua.
“We cannot afford to have a country which is led by two thieves. Where the President is a thief and the deputy also a thief.”
Mr Odinga unveiled Azimio Nairobi gubernatorial candidate Polycarp Igathe, his deputy Prof Philip Kaloki, senatorial candidate Edwin Sifuna and Woman Rep Esther Passaris alongside 17 MP and 85 MCA aspirants.
He said the Azimio Nairobi team will restore the glory of the capital.
“Nairobi was known in the yester years as the Green City in the Sun but has now turned to be the city in the filth. We want to restore its glory,” Mr Odinga said. He promised to ensure free education from nursery to the tertiary level to boost education.
The Azimio leader also vowed to improve the health system through his Baba Care programme and introduce the social welfare programme where poor families will benefit from a Sh6,000 monthly stipend from his government.