21 April 2017

Kenya: Show of Unity As Nasa Reveals Date to Name Flagbearer

Photo: Jeff Angote/The Nation
Nasa principals from left: Musalia Mudavadi, Raila Odinga , Isaac Ruto, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang'ula at Bomas of Kenya on April 20, 2017.

The Opposition alliance has said that it will announce its presidential candidate on Thursday next week and has already agreed on how to share power if victorious at the General Election.

Nasa (National Super Alliance) also admitted Bomet governor and Chama Cha Mashinani party leader Isaac Ruto into its ranks, creating what ODM boss Raila Odinga christened the Nasa Pentagon.

Thursday's meeting had been billed as the day a major announcement would be made, creating the expectation that the alliance's flagbearer would be named. But the announcement was that a day for the major announcement had been agreed on and that Mr Ruto had officially joined the Opposition.

That was left to Ford Kenya party leader Moses Wetang'ula, who spoke last at the meeting at the Bomas of Kenya where the Bomet governor was officially welcomed into the Opposition.

"On the 27th of this month, April, the year 2017, we have a date with you in Uhuru Park," he told the crowd at the well-organised and choreographed event.

"That day, we shall be told about the team that is going to save Kenya. They (the person) will obviously be the first among equals but we shall all be equals," said the Senate Minority Leader.

CHANCE TO DECAMP

According to the timelines set by the electoral commission, and which are based on the law, parties should finish their primaries by April 26. This suggests that the Nasa nomination for its candidate will have ended by the time he is named and that the rest will have no chance to decamp.

Parties should submit the names of their nominees to the electoral commission by May 10. All candidates will then submit their papers to the returning officers for clearance between May 28 and June 2, the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission said on Wednesday.

For the presidential election, the returning officer is Mr Chebukati himself. The submission of nomination papers and accompanying documents officially marks the start of the campaign period.

Selecting a presidential candidate has not been easy for the Opposition alliance and the prospect of a fall-out has troubled its heads, who have struggled to put up a united front even as some of their lieutenants give conflicting messages.

It was probably the reason Mr Wetang'ula repeated the assertion that whoever refuses to vote for the alliance's choice would be effectively a Jubilee voter and that the alliance would remain united no matter who is named flagbearer.

HUNGRY FOR POWER

Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi also emphasised the need for the Opposition supporters to come out and vote. "We know the shoe that pinches. This shoe called Jubilee that is pinching every Kenyan, what do we do with it? Remove it," he added.

He said the Opposition should not be accused of being hungry for power by coming up with agreements on how positions in the government will be shared if victory is theirs.

"Leadership is about power and power must be shared and dispersed horizontally to lead this country properly. The agreement on power sharing is finished. You know, in our culture, the cow is shared before it is slaughtered - on who will take the hind leg, the fore leg, the head and who will have the ribs. That, we have already finished," said Mr Wetang'ula.

He also insisted there are no cracks in the coalition.

"Today, we come here to tell Kenyans that there is no cause for alarm about the leadership of Nasa," said Mr Wetang'ula.

2007 PENTAGON

He said Mr Odinga, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Amani National Congress head Musalia Mudavadi and himself had been holding meetings at an undisclosed location in Nairobi.

Tremendous progress has been made in arriving at the line-up, he said, and the quartet had bound themselves "in the name of God and Allah" not to walk out of the alliance once a decision is announced.

One such meeting lasted until 3.30 a.m. Thursday morning, he added.

Mr Odinga was at the head of a similarly named Pentagon in 2007, that time with Mr Musyoka, Mr Mudavadi, Najib Balala, Charity Ngilu and William Ruto in ODM. Mr Musyoka however broke away and run for the presidency under the banner of ODM-Kenya.

On Thursday Wetang'ula announced: "We have unconditionally accepted and admitted our brother Isaac Ruto and Chama Cha Mashinani to Nasa as an equal and qualified partner." Mr Ruto's admission into Nasa marked the end of his political relationship with the Jubilee administration.

TYRANNY OF NUMBERS

"I am one of those who signed and started the coalition known as Jubilee and I am sorry. When we were forming that coalition, it was not our intention to tyrannise others with our numbers. I have also been tyrannised now. I cannot continue to associate myself or my supporters with that regime," he said.

He described his fellow Nasa principals as his "ideological soulmates."

Mr Odinga said the naming of the flagbearer would be followed by the launch of the manifesto and then the Nasa vehicle hits the road for the campaigns.

"When we do hit the road, it will be a campaign like no other. We shall take no county or village for granted. We will go to each of the 47 counties," he added.

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