Secrecy, suspicion in Azimio deputy row

Azimio panel

From left: Azimio advisory panel members Michael Orwa, Elizabeth Meyo, Paul Mwangi and Enoch Wambua during their inaugural meeting at the secretariat’s offices on May 4, 2022.

Photo credit: Diana Ngila | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Damaging suspicions emerge within the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party.
  • Wiper leader has refused to face a panel constituted to pick Raila’s running mate.

Emerging hard-line political statements suggest the panel tasked to recommend Mr Raila Odinga’s running mate could be a smokescreen intended to cover damaging suspicions within the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party.

In particular, a sensational claim by a high-ranking coalition official that they were suspicious that the selection of Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka as their running mate could help their rivals.

Sources within Mr Odinga’s camp yesterday told the Nation that the push by both Kenya Kwanza Alliance leader Deputy President William Ruto and Mr Musyoka’s camp to have the Wiper leader named Mr Odinga’s running mate was “suspicious.”

“We think Ruto and Kalonzo have a secret pact. I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. Kalonzo’s behaviour has been destructive all through. He’s trying to wreck us from within. He doesn’t want [Mr Odinga] to be President so that he can run against Dr Ruto in 2027,” a source within Azimio told the Nation.

Another source within the camp argued that the DP’s camp was simply playing psychological warfare with Azimio to have Mr Musyoka named Mr Odinga’s running mate so that Dr Ruto can pick Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi as his deputy “with the thinking that he will win over Western and still use his influence in Mt Kenya region to get votes and win the elections.”

“We are alive to their games but are keeping our cards close to our chests. They will be in for a rude shock.” 

But Wiper vice chairman Mutula Kilonzo Jr dismissed talk that Mr Musyoka had a secret pact with the DP, saying, it was desperate but was nothing new.

“The allegations suggest that all those who have raised concern on this process are on the payroll of the DP. Before joining Azimio, he [Kalonzo] was clear to the leadership of Wiper that he had no such plans,” he said. But if it comes to it, Mr Kilonzo Jr said, Wiper was ready to have Mr Musyoka run for President on his own, adding,“the rest are the usual political name calling.”

This comes as the advisory panel tasked with the selection of a suitable Deputy President candidate for Mr Odinga set out today as the deadline for affiliate parties to submit names of their candidates for consideration.

Yesterday, Mr Musyoka’s party said the insistence by Azimio to subject the former vice President to an interview was undermining his political stature.

“The last I checked, my party leader was not going to apply or appear. As far as I know, the presidential candidate should nominate his running mate quietly ... not [through] vetting,” Mr Kilonzo Jnr told the Nation.

Mr Kilonzo also questioned why the running mate selection panel allowed all the 26 constituent parties to submit names.

Yesterday, the panel held its inaugural meeting and elected former Cabinet minister Dr Noah Wekesa as chairman. The Azimio process for selecting its running mate has also received criticism from Dr Ruto’s camp, with Mr Odinga’s loyalists sensing a sinister motive.

“Though we are competitors, to subject HE Kalonzo to some humiliating ‘interview’ is impunity. We must unite to eliminate the culture of political deceit, the hallmark of some politicians. Whatever the circumstances every leader deserves some dignity and respect. Heshima si utumwa,” Dr Ruto tweeted yesterday. This attracted criticism from Mr Odinga, with his presidential campaign spokesperson Prof Makau Mutua cautioning the DP.

“My advice to William Ruto [is] please pick [Mr] Musyoka as your running mate if you care so much for him ... Leave Azimio matters to us. Stop poking your nose where it doesn’t belong ... Our process is inclusive and participatory. Yours is opaque,” Prof Mutua posted.