Azimio la Umoja leaders
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Together apart: Azimio leaders at cross-purpose

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Azimio la Umoja leaders (from left) Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, ODM Party leader Raila Odinga and Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua  when they held prayers at Jevanjee Gardens, Nairobi on February 22,2023. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The heightened activities by individual political parties within Azimio la Umoja, and the public exchanges between key leaders have once again turned the spotlight on the state of the opposition coalition.

While some have said the intense activities are meant to strengthen the outfits to continue with the onslaught against the government, others believe it could be a signal of some leaders preparing for eventual disintegration.

Looming in the background is the overbearing shadow of retired President Uhuru Kenyatta, said to be increasingly keen on asserting control on the opposition.

ODM leader Raila Odinga is on a recruitment blitz to mostly secure his strongholds while Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka is scheduled to hold a national executive committee meeting this week, with some sources indicating details of his presidential ambitions will be on the table.

Azimio leaders have previously dismissed reports that the pulling apart by various leaders in the coalition on matters such as the National Dialogue Committee report and the early declarations for the presidential ticket in the 2027 elections is causing deeper cracks in the coalition at a time the government of President William Ruto is increasingly under pressure over its policies and promises.

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Recent developments have seen various leaders in the coalition reading from different scripts on various issues. Mr Musyoka has since declared that he will be on the ballot in 2027 and will not support Mr Odinga again.

On the other hand, Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua and Jubilee’s Jeremiah Kioni have been busy championing the Kamwene leadership forum in Mt Kenya. Mr Kioni also continues to fight for control of the party against a faction allied to the State, whose leaders met President Ruto at State House, Nakuru, on Thursday.

Mr Musyoka has called on the leaders to abandon the Kamwene clarion call and stick together in Azimio.

Jubilee Party Leader and former President Uhuru Kenyatta

Jubilee Party leader and retired President Uhuru Kenyatta during his party's National Delegates Conference at  Ngong Racecourse on May 22, 2023.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

However, in a response that has continued to attract attention and raised questions about the unity of the opposition, Ms Karua told Mr Musyoka on her X account (previously Twitter) to keep off the affairs of the group.

Narc-Kenya party leader Martha Karua and Jubilee Party Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni.

Photo credit: File

“What is it about Kamwene that scares my brother Kalonzo Musyoka that he must drag it in every conversation?” asked Ms Karua.

That the two top Azimio leaders chose a public exchange instead of discussing the concerns behind closed doors has raised more questions than answers.

The Democratic Action Party (DAP-K) of Eugene Wamalwa also dismissed assertions of disintegration within Azimio, saying the coalition is together on many issues affecting Kenyans.

“We are telling Kenyans that Azimio is not divided. We are on the same page on the issue of cost of living and we are moving as one to take the struggle after this parliamentary process. We are going back to the people on the cost of living and other matters,” Mr Wamalwa said.

Kalonzo Musyoka: I would be stupid to support Raila again

Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni told the Sunday Nation after elections, the main objective of Azimio was to tell Kenyans that the lies of the government, a function which he pointed out has been successfully achieved.

“We have achieved what we wanted to tell Kenyans about this government. They are now seeing that they are dealing with a deceptive government. Now we are organising ourselves individually as parties,” Mr Kioni said, adding that before the coalition partners go back to the table, they must be organised as individual outfits.

While defending Kamwene, Mr Kioni said leaders in Azimio from Mt Kenya region had been accused of not organising demonstrations in their backyard and that the outfit should be allowed to continue with its objective.

ODM Chairman John Mbadi denied any division within Azimio, describing it as a strategy whose details cannot be revealed at the moment.

“Azimio summit is still intact and operating, there is no split as reported,” Mr Mbadi said. He also supported the heightened activities by Ms Karua and Mr Kioni in central Kenya.

Azimio bipartisan talks

Azimio members in the bipartisan talks, from left: DAP-K party leader Eugene Wamalwa, Jubilee Party Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni and National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi on September 1, 2023.

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

“Karua is trying to get a strong political base and there is nothing wrong with that because every political leader needs that, so we cannot condemn her,” Mr Mbadi said.

“Before going to any election, or getting into any coalition, individual parties must always strengthen themselves. As ODM, we have been doing this all over the years and it cannot be said that it’s a sign of disintegration from Azimio,” Mr Mbadi said.

In a recent interview with the Nation, National Assembly Minority leader Opiyo Wandayi said going to 2027, the political landscape would change.

“The political landscape is going to change, there will be alignments and realignments between now and the next elections. Azimio might evolve to be a much bigger movement that could even be renamed something else,” Mr Wandayi said.

The Ugunja lawmaker also pointed out that the expression of different opinion by Azimio leaders is a sign of democracy in the coalition.

“We cannot all be thinking in the same manner on every single issue. It is very healthy that we would have dissenting opinions on an issue such as the Nadco report,” Mr Wandayi

Moi University don Masibo Lumala told the Sunday Nation that it’s too early to say that Azimio is disintegrating, terming what is going on in the coalition as part of preparations by the various parties to test their strength.

“The problem is that once you have lost an election, you must go back to the drawing board. You cannot have an opposition called Azimio and that is why ODM is going back to the people,” he said.