Kenya: Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga Craft 2022 Coalition

President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre) in a show of unity with Deputy President William Ruto (left) and ODM leader Raila Odinga, during the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi on November 27, 2019 (file photo).

Jubilee and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) have opened talks for a coalition, hoping to field a presidential candidate in 2022.

Officials of the two parties yesterday said President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga directed party organs to transform the "handshake" - the truce between the rivals in the disputed 2017 presidential vote - into a formal coalition.

Although Mr Odinga has not formally declared interest in the presidency, and insisted yesterday that it is not yet time to focus on 2022, the talks appear to point at Mr Kenyatta's preferred successor.

Jubilee and ODM have been working together since March 9, 2018 when the President and Mr Odinga struck a deal to resolve the political crisis following the disputed 2017 vote.

The Daily Nation has established that Jubilee and ODM officials have been holding meetings to seal a pre-election agreement, which among others details the picking of the presidential flag bearer and the sharing out of government positions.

Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju, Vice-Chairman David Murathe, ODM Elections and Campaigns Director Junet Mohammed, National Assembly Deputy Majority Chief Whip Maoka Maore and ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna were holed up at a hotel in Kiambu for the talks Thursday.

Handshake partners

"This is just one of the many meetings we have had and are working on ways of formalising the handshake into a broad-based coalition for the sake of 2022," Mr Tuju said.

"The President and Mr Odinga have been clear and focused on what is for the best for this country. That is why they have not been talking of 2022 even as they discuss the Building Bridges Initiative."

He said Jubilee and ODM would formalise their relation "for the sake of 2022".

Mr Mohamed said the parties want to move from being handshake partners to a coalition.

"We are going to consummate our three-year relationship with a view of forming a coalition. This has been affirmed by all," he said.

"It is a forgone conclusion that ODM is going into 2022 with Jubilee as a team."

The Suna East MP added that the Jubilee-ODM marriage has reached the point of "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part".

Mr Murathe said Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga have agreed "to take the handshake to the next level in terms of engagement".

Read: Raila Odinga: Who said I will run for president?

Also read: Kalonzo Musyoka: I'd rather retire than back Raila

Post-election coalition

He said there is need to allow the country remain in the same trajectory brought by the good relationship between the President and the ODM leader.

"We will not be distracted by sideshows like the recent by-elections. Our focus is 2022 and the bigger picture of things," the Jubilee vice-chairman added.

He said that the coalition would accommodate "like-minded" partners.

Mr Murathe said Jubilee has already entered into a post-election coalition agreement with Kanu and has a cooperation deal with Wiper party.

Mr Sifuna said time has come for the two parties to craft a formal engagement ahead of the General Election.

"We have the tacit approval of our principals to engage formally as organs and officials of the party. Our counterparts in Jubilee will take the natural next step of the formalising handshake relationship," Mr Sifuna said.

"We have the authority. There will be more engagements on how we can actualise this partnership."

Like the others, he said it would be a formal deal.

"To reiterate what the President said, the handshake created an enabling environment for the country to focus on development," Mr Murathe said.

Most eager bride

"We laud the President and the former Prime Minister creating enabling environment for stability and peace. That is where we want to see this country post-2022."

Mr Tuju said the officials are working on finer details of the Jubilee-ODM coalition.

"That informs the reason we have never been worried about being involved in high voltage politics. We didn't want anything to distract us from the path our leaders want this country to take," the Jubilee secretary general said.

The party officials, however, fell short of declaring their coalition presidential flag bearer, who is likely to face off with Deputy President William Ruto.

"Even the most eager bride must wait for the groom to pose the question. Somebody cannot just wave and you tell him to go and talk to your parents. There are 13 months to go to the elections. We will provide details of the presidential candidate then," Mr Sifuna said.

During the Madaraka Day celebrations in Kisumu on June 1, President Kenyatta hinted at continuing to work with the ODM leader.

jjochieng@ke.nationmedia.com

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