The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Uhuru+Ruto Pull Out of Mudavadi Nyeri Rally

IN a further sign of internal confusion, the Jubilee Coalition yesterday evening cancelled a rally that it had scheduled for today in Nyeri, President Kibaki's backyard.

On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta said that "dark forces" forced him to offer the presidential candidacy to UDF leader Musalia Mudavadi.

Uhuru's allies alleged that State House and the NSIS had pressured him to drop out of the race because of the charges that he and William Ruto are facing at the ICC.

Nick Wanjohi, President Kibaki's private secretary, was one of the founders of Mudavadi's UDF party. However State House has several times denied being involved in succession politics.

President Kibaki is considered to still have strong political influence in his Nyeri home area despite the tidal wave of support for TNA and Uhuru elsewhere in Central Province.

"Jubilee Coalition will hold a rally at Dedan Kimathi Stadium Nyeri, tomorrow, Friday 21st December 2012, from 10am. Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, Hon. William Ruto, Hon. Musalia Mudavadi and Hon. Charity Ngilu will be in attendance," a statement from TNA director of communication Machel Waikenda said yesterday morning.

The local UDF co-ordinator in Nyeri Michael Muchomba had already paid Sh10,000 to book the venue and hired tents and seats. Laikipia West MP Nderitu Mureithi who is allied to UDF hired vehicles mounted with loud speakers which went round the town and the rural areas asking people to attend the rally.

At 4.39 pm and again at 5.08 pm yesterday, the director of communications at the Musalia Mudavadi campaign secretariat Mundia Muchiri sent a press release to newsrooms advising them of the rally. Mundia said Mudavadi would join Uhuru and Ruto as well as Narc leader Charity Ngilu at the rally.

Eighteen minutes later-- at 5.26 pm --Murigi Macharia of Uhuru's press office sent out a terse message simply saying, "Kindly note that the Nyeri Jubilee Coalition rally previously planned for tomorrow has been cancelled."

At 5.58 pm, messages from TNA chairman Johnson Sakaja, URP's chairman Francis ole Kaparo and UDF's spokesman Hassan Osman started sending out similar text messages to MPs affiliated to their parties informing them that the rally had been cancelled indefinitely. They did not mention anything about the rally scheduled to be held at Tononoka in Mombasa tomorrow.

The Nyeri rally was intended to clear the perception that the Jubilee alliance is about to collapse after Uhuru backtracked this week on his December 4 offer to step down from the presidential race in favor of Mudavadi.

Multiple sources yesterday said the rally was cancelled following concerns that Nyeri could turn out to be more pro-Mudavadi than other parts of Central Province.

Yesterday, officials from TNA, URP and UDF went into a meeting to discuss the planned rallies and the delegates' convention to choose the Jubilee presidential candidate.

"We have been called to a meeting to discuss the delegates' convention currently being slated for Sunday. We are not going to announce it this time unless we are very sure that it is going to happen," said a TNA source.

A Jubilee delegates' conference was postponed last weekend after Uhuru and Mudavadi failed to agree on how to implement a secret pact that the UDF leader should become the Jubilee presidential candidate.

The wrangles in the Jubilee coalition have to started to affect morale in the UDF as some officials in Western Kenya backyard have defected to Prime Minister Raila Odinga's CORD coalition.

Yesterday Friends of Raila (FORA) received the UDF county chairmen Solomon Kilasi (Vihiga), Linus Muchenya (Kakamega) and Tom Namusala (Busia) who urged Mudavadi to join the CORD coalition.

Mudavadi's side was still insisting that they should use consensus to select the presidential candidate but Uhuru's supporters rejected the idea.

TNA chairman Johnson Sakaja told supporters on Twitter and Facebook that party members must be allowed to choose their candidate.

"In seven months, we have built the strongest party in the country, with more than a million members. We cannot ignore their voices. We are committed to ensuring that Uhuru Kenyatta is on the ballot as the flag bearer of Jubilee. We will stay firmly in Jubilee but are insisting that the voice of our members be heard. We are not party to any deal that has not been sanctioned by our members," Sakaja said.

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