The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Kalonzo Agrees to Be Raila's Running Mate

Photo: Capital FM /Charles kimani
Kalonzo Musyoka, William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta.

PRIME Minister Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka are today expected to sign their pre-election coalition pact at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.

They will bring together ODM and Wiper Democratic Party with Raila as the presidential candidate and Kalonzo as his running mate. New Ford Kenya is also reported to be joining the pact with its leader Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa tipped to become the Speaker of the National Assembly.

On Sunday Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto unveiled their coalition at a mass rally in Nakuru.

Both Uhuru and Ruto are charged with crimes against humanity and their trials are due to start on April 10 and 11 at the same time as the likely second round of the presidential election. Today is the deadline for political parties to register any pre-election coalition deals with the Registrar of Political Parties Registrar.

There is a strong logic for the Raila-Kalonzo combo. A controversial Infotrak opinion poll in November indicated that, if he was running with Kalonzo, Raila would win in the second round with 52 per cent of the vote against 48 per cent for Uhuru and Ruto. However the poll was bitterly disputed by various parties.

Raila has already co-opted Ford Kenya chairman Moses Wetangula for his alliance and was yesterday still trying to reach out to Water minister Charity Ngilu who heads Narc party.

Charity has previously been associated with the G7 alliance but did not attend the Nakuru rally on Sunday. Eugene was widely expected to become Uhuru's running mate during the nascent stages of the G7 Alliance which included Uhuru, Ruto, and Kalonzo.

However, alliance members started breaking away as the Uhuru-Ruto team crystallized. Last week Wamalwa announced he would seek the unity of Western leaders including UDF leader Musalia Mudavadi but the talks have since collapsed.

"Eugene has already agreed to be part of this team (ODM, Kalonzo) and he will be one of those signing the pact today," said an ODM official yesterday. Party leaders and their representatives have been hammering out details of the alliance in a series of meetings.

Wamalwa was represented in the talks by nominated MP Musikari Kombo while ODM used party secretary general Anyang' Nyong'o, Dalmas Otieno and Musa Sirma.

Wiper's Education minister Mutula Kilonzo, Lands minister James Orengo, former Attorney General Amos Wako and Wetangula were finalised how positions would be shared between coalition members.

The dealmakers yesterday met at Orengo's private office in Lonrho house in a continuation of a meeting held on Sunday night in Mombasa where they settled on Kalonzo as Raila's running mate.

The deal between Raila and Kalonzo should have been formally announced on Sunday at the rally in Tononoka but the VP's side asked for more time for further consultations. Kalonzo's team did not attend the rally which was addressed by Raila.

Yesterday, ODM officials were lobbying to have as many supporters as possible from Wiper and ODM to attend the unveiling of the pact at KICC. Mutula, Orengo and Kangundo MP Johnson Muthama have been instrumental in crafting the deal.

Kalonzo had been under pressure from some Wiper MPs to form a coalition with Musalia Mudavadi's UDF. However, Raila's camp persuaded Kalonzo that a coalition with ODM stood a better chance of winning the next election.

On Sunday, Kalonzo complained that Uhuru and Ruto had betrayed him. Kalonzo claimed that Ruto had drafted a deal where he would be the presidential aspirant, Uhuru the running mate and Ruto the majority leader in Parliament.

Yesterday, Kalonzo said today's agreement will be between a team of leaders who are serious in the fight against tribalism and negative ethnicity.

"After we sign the agreement tomorrow (Tuesday), Kenyans will then know who the true reformers are in this country. It is time that champions against tribalism come out against tribal groupings in this country if we are to remain united as people of one nation," Kalonzo said in his Mwingi North constituency after registering as a voter at Tseikuru trading centre.

After depositing their agreement with the Registrar of Political Parties, both ODM and Wiper are required to convene separate national delegate conferences to ratify the decision.

ODM is expected to convene its delegates conference this Friday while Kalonzo's will be on Monday. Kalonzo and Raila parted ways in the run-up to the 2007 general election after they disagreed during the ODM-Kenya presidential nominations.

After quitting ODM-K, which has since rebranded to Wiper Democratic Party, Raila formed ODM but failed to clinch the presidency during the disputed 2007 presidential elections. Kalonzo has previously denied reports that he has been in coalition talks with Raila.

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