Which way Kalonzo? Decision time for Wiper boss as he meets party officials, aspirants

Kalonzo Musyoka

Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

It’s time for former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka to decide whether to go all the way to the presidential ballot or rejoin Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party as he meets Wiper officials and at least 500 aspirants to discuss the way forward today.

The meeting at Stoni Athi Resort in Machakos County comes against the backdrop of a deadline by the electoral agency to have presidential aspirants deliver to the commission requisite signatures to support their bids.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) set today as the last day for presidential aspirants to submit duly filled forms of supporters bearing the names, signatures, identity cards or passport numbers of at least 2,000 listed voters in each of a majority of the counties.

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati said that, alongside the signatures, the aspirants should file corresponding copies of the identification documents of the voters who have appended their signatures in support of their candidatures as well as an electronic list of supporters in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

Yesterday, Mr Musyoka’s allies remained guarded on whether the Wiper leader had already fulfilled these requirements but confirmed to the Nation a scheduled Wiper aspirants’ congregation to deliberate on the August election. Party vice-chairman Mutula Kilonzo Jnr said that, whereas today’s meeting is meant to strategise on a Wiper winning formula, Azimio matters would also be discussed.

“We’ve not met after the primaries. We need to consolidate and strategise how to keep competition away and campaign plan. I expect the Azimio issues will be brought up,” Mr Kilonzo said when asked whether the meeting would offer Mr Musyoka a way forward on his presidential quest.

On May 16, Mr Musyoka had announced his decision to run for the top seat alongside Andrew Sunkuli as his running mate, citing betrayal by Mr Odinga who named Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua as his running mate.

Kanu Chairman Gideon Moi, who moments earlier had joined Mr Odinga at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre where Ms Karua was unveiled, also attended the meeting.

Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat told the Nation that, there are talks led by Mr Moi, who has reiterated his commitment to Azimio, to have Mr Musyoka drop his presidential bid and throw his weight behind Mr Odinga. Mr Moi hinted at a possible reunion of Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka when he said Kanu was pulling out all the stops to have “everybody on board”.

Mixed signals

Pressure has also been piling on Mr Musyoka to make a decision on his position, with a section of professionals from his Ukambani backyard saying his delay was sending mixed signals to the public.

Green Thinking Action Party leader Isaac Kalua said Mr Musyoka ought to make the right decision because many people in Ukambani rely on him.

“Even if they are few or many, there are people who rely on him. He should decide whether to be in Azimio and unite all leaders there and if he has other plans, he should do that so that leaders can make the right decision. This delay makes the public lack direction and causes unnecessary anxiety,” Dr Kalua said.

Yesterday, Dan Maanzo, Makueni MP and Musyoka ally confirmed the Wiper aspirants meeting but was guarded on the agenda, saying, he hadn’t seen it.

On Mr Salat’s statement that Mr Moi was leading talks to have Mr Musyoka stay in the Azimio fold, Mr Maanzo said he was not aware of such talks, but cast aspersions on Mr Salat’s statement.

“I don’t know about Gideon leading talks with Kalonzo to stay in Azimio but Nick Salat has been careless. He has been talking without instructions from his party. That’s his opinion and he is entitled to it.

“I wouldn’t take Nick Salat seriously but people are entitled to air their views,” he told Nation.

The surprise move by Mr Musyoka to quit Azimio and subsequent negotiations to rejoin have put at least 543 aspirants on edge. A majority of Wiper aspirants from outside Ukambani argue that they joined the party because of its affiliation with Azimio and any move to sever links with the coalition would spell doom for them.

The Wiper aspirants are in a catch-22 situation on whether to rebrand their campaign merchandise by factoring in Mr Musyoka as their preferred presidential candidate or retain the already printed materials.

A majority have printed campaign merchandise with Mr Odinga’s image, Azimio symbols, logos and colours while others have erected giant billboards in towns.

Possible hostility

Some aspirants, especially the ones outside the three Ukambani counties of Machakos, Kitui and Makueni, told the Nation that they have been forced to suspend further printing of campaign materials until Mr Musyoka “make up his mind”.

At the same time, aspirants who had schemed to ride on the Azimio wave in areas where Wiper has no presence are also fearing possible hostility in their campaigns.

Wiper has fielded 400 aspirants for the county assembly seats, 11 for governor, 22 for senator and 110 for National Assembly seats.

Also on the horns of a dilemma is Nairobi deputy governor candidate Philip Kaloki. Prof Kaloki was fronted for the position by Wiper and could be a casualty should the outfit legally exit the coalition. Another possible casualty over Mr Musyoka’s flip-flopping is his running mate nominee, Andrew Sunkuli.

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