The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Three Join Uhuru, Ruto Pact

Leaders from three more parties yesterday announced their intention to join the pre-election coalition pact currently being hammered out between Uhuru Kenyatta's TNA and William Ruto's URP.

Mvita MP and leader of the Republican Congress Party Najib Balala, Water minister and Narc party leader Charity Ngilu, and Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa of New Ford Kenya were among those who attended a breakfast meeting after which they designated former Ford-Kenya chairman Musikari Kombo their spokesman.

Others who attended the meeting at Serena Hotel in Nairobi were Environment Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere, Dujis MP Aden Duale and Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo of Narc.

"The breakfast meeting resolved to form a coalition that will unite all Kenyans towards peace and prosperity. This will be a coalition of ideas, issues that face our nation and provision of solutions on challenges that our people face.

Towards that end the party leaders agreed to immediately begin development of the necessary instruments to formalise the said coalition. In the coming days, the issues that were discussed this morning will start to crystallise and the solutions by the like-minded leaders will be presented across all the 47 counties of our beloved republic," Kombo said in a statement issued after the meeting.

Conspicuously absent from the meeting was Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka who has for most of the year identified himself with the G7 Alliance.

The Alliance key members -- Uhuru, Ruto, Eugene and Kalonzo -- have failed to reach an agreement on which one of them they should back for President. Each of them has insisted on having his name on the ballot until recently when negotiations for a pre-election pact intensified.

Yesterday's meeting agreed to set up a technical team that comprises mainly the party leaders and their allies to affirm the accord which they will deposit with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and the Registrar of Political Parties as required under the Elections Act.

Political parties have until December 4 to register any coalition agreements that they may have signed. No such agreements will be accepted after this date.

Apart from agreeing on who will be running for what office, the agreement has to indicate how the parties in the agreement will share out the maximum 22 Cabinet positions as well as the public service appointments once they form the government. These are some of the sticking points since the establishment of the Kibaki-Raila coalition administration.

Ngilu's campaign secretariat said her "five pillars" development agenda will be taken aboard. The "basic needs revolution" mooted by Ngilu comprises the provision of food and water, the establishment of an affordable healthcare plan, education, wealth creation, and women's empowerment.

"We agreed that the five pillars will be the coalition's agenda in the next five years," said Kilonzo as he emerged from the meeting. Prior to the meeting at Serena yesterday, Uhuru had hosted the team at his home. The Serena meeting was to brief Ruto on Uhuru delegation's trip to Burundi on Wednesday.

Ruto was initially meant to be in the trip but pulled out at the last minute due to some urgent issues, Kombo explained. Kombo said Burundi President Pierre Nkurunzinza asked foreigners to keep off the Kenyan electoral process.

Meanwhile, the Registrar of Political Parties Lucy Ndung'u yesterday said the Elections Act provides guidelines for parties that enter into pre-election coalition agreements.

"Both the constitution and the Political Parties Act provide that parties can form coalition by signing an agreement which they will deposit at the registrar's office and the IEBC," she said.

Concerns that either Uhuru or Ruto would have to quit either of their parties if they were to run on a joint ticket were raised on Wednesday during a meeting held by the IEBC at Naivasha for members of the Political Parties Liaison Committee.

Some of the participants explained the pre-election pact where two or more parties retain their identity would be difficult. So the parties may have to merge into one.

Yesterday, Ndung'u said a pre-election pact between candidates from different parties who want to run on a joint ticket must be registered with her office before the elections. The pact must indicate in the party and symbol to be used on the ballot paper.

The Centre for Multi-Party Democracy chairman Justin Muturi read mischief in those raising concerns about the accord. Muturi said it was yet another attempt to block the Uhuru-Ruto ticket.

"Parties will sign an agreement that will include nomination rules. They will state in the agreement the party and symbol they will use for the presidency," Muturi said. In such an agreement, all parties can still retain their identity.

"Only the presidential candidate and his running mate have to use a common party and symbol but the parties will be retained for candidates of other elective seats," he explained.

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