The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Ngilu, Eugene Set to Join Uhuru's TNA

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto are considering backing Water minister Charity Ngilu as the alternative presidential candidate in case the High Court blocks them from running.

Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa will be Ngilu's running mate if the plan comes into play. The Ngilu-Wamalwa combo is understood to be the option Ruto and Uhuru are considering in case the courts stop them from having their names on the ballot paper.

The suit about their eligibility will be heard this month. Uhuru and Ruto have indicated their determination to be in the race even though they are due to go on trial at the Hague from April 10 and 11 where they are facing charges of crimes against humanity arising from the 2007-08 post-election violence.

And to set the plan in motion, Uhuru's The National Alliance, Ruto's URP, Ngilu's Narc and Eugene's New Ford Kenya are today expected to sign a pre-election pact that will bind the parties together ahead of the March 4, 2013 general election.

The deal will make Ngilu the key pillar of the alliance in Eastern province while Eugene will be the key figure in Western region. The deal makes no mention of either UDF leader Musalia Mudavadi or Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka who heads the Wiper Democratic Party.

Kalonzo has in recent months been isolated by Uhuru and Ruto with whom they had formed the G7 Alliance which appears to have collapsed.

Sources told the Star the deal would have been signed on Wednesday but the TNA and URP had yet to reach an agreement over how to share the counties in Rift Valley especially as far as fielding candidates was concerned.

The parties have tentatively agreed that they will not field candidates against each other but will instead participate in a joint nomination process.

The deal ensures that any party which is a member of the alliance will not face opposition during nominations in areas where it has its stronghold. The issue of which party will field candidates in the cosmopolitan Nakuru county has become a sticking point.

The TNA wants to be able to field its own candidates but the URP considers this part of its wider Rift Valley stronghold and wants to be able to field its own especially for the senator, governor and parliamentary seats.

This uncertainty has led Ruto to consider his options including teaming up with Prime Minister Raila Odinga of ODM. The stalemate led to a meeting of at least ten MPs associated with TNA, aspirants and party officials at the Jacaranda Hotel in Nairobi on Wednesday to try and find a solution.

The meeting was chaired by Naivasha MP John Mututho who is eyeing the Nakuru governor seat. "The meeting was to discuss the Nakuru issue; it was all about how to come together because Nakuru is a sensitive county and we know how cosmopolitan it is," said TNA official Alice Ng'ang'a yesterday.

"It was decided that the party first leave it to the county's local leaders who should discuss the matter and come up with a solution. That is what the party will follow," added Ng'ang'a who is eyeing the newly created Thika constituency.

Insiders in TNA said the party has already done its calculation and considers at least eight out of the 11 constituencies within Nakuru County safe based on the 2002 and 2007 voting patterns.

The constituencies considered safe by TNA include Molo, Njoro, Naivasha, Gilgil, Kuresoi South, Kuresoi North, Subukia, Rongai, Bahati, Nakuru Town, Nakuru Town West and Nakuru Town East. The only constituency where TNA is expecting serious competition is Kuresoi South.

The new alliance is troubled about how it will get the support of the electorate in 18 or more constituencies where neither of the parties has a dominant presence.

These include constituencies in North Eastern Province, the upper reaches of Samburu, Marsabit and Moyale and the Coastal region of the Tana River.

"TNA insists it has stronger candidates in those areas and believe that it should also field candidates but URP is insisting it be allowed to prevail in the marginalised areas," said an MP who has been participating in the negotiations.

By yesterday three committees had been established with representatives from all TNA, URP, Narc and New Ford Kenya to iron out these and any other issues.

One committee under the chairmanship of nominated MP Amina Abdalla will deal with what was described as the "zoning problem" and map out areas where each political party in the alliance has a stronghold.

A second committee been tasked with dealing with alternative presidential candidates should Uhuru and Ruto be barred from the race. The third committee will deal with general issues and oversee the other two committees.

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