Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula yesterday denied he was planning to bolt from Cord and split the opposition if he isn’t named its presidential flagbearer.
But he has repeatedly — and again on Sunday — called on Cord and ODM leader Raila Odinga to step aside and back him.
The Senate minority leader on Sunday likened Raila to an impotent man unable impregnate a wife — referring to the former Prime Minister’s three failed stabs at the presidency.
This isn’t unity talk. Raila maintains publicly, however, that Cord is intact.
If Wetang’ula did walk out, that would divide the Luhya vote and substantially diminish Raila’s chances of unseating President Uhuru Kenyatta.
And the Bungoma senator has bought a new chopper branded in Ford-K colours of green and white, interpreted as a sign he could be building his arsenal and mounting his own bid for the top job.
In response to questions from the Star, Wetang’ula told off those claiming he was about to exit the divided opposition that is straining at the seams. He was a founding member of Cord and was in for the long haul, he said.
“We founded Cord. None of the three of us [co-principals] is an invitee. How do I leave a house I built?” Wetang’ula asked.
Multiple ODM sources interviewed by the Star accuse Wetang’ula of being bankrolled by the Jubilee Party and biding his time before jumping ship.
“We are aware he is funded by Jubilee. Wetangu’la will go it alone like [Simeon] Nyachae did in 2002,” one source said.
Yesterday, Wetang’ula dismissed the Jubilee-traitor claim as idle talk.
The Ford Kenya exit accusations emerged after a weekend of high drama — Wiper threatened to leave the coalition and Wetang’ula again rubbished Raila’s fourth stab at the presidency.
On Saturday, a host of Raila’s allies publicly proposed Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho as his running mate in 2017. Wiper boss Kalonzo Musyoka and his troops were infuriated.
“Our coalition partners went on a popularisation tour and they made all sorts of remarks and declarations. All kinds of condescending remarks…Hon Raila declared he is prepared to go it alone,” Wiper secretary general Hassan Omar said.
“So we decided to also embark on a popularisation tour and once we decided, unfortunately, our colleagues took offense.”
The senator’s PA Mandu Mandu confirmed the new chopper is Wetang’ula’s.
“The party and its leader are determined. We want to create some space, move up and down as we appeal for support ahead of the coalition nomination for President,” Mandu said.
Ford Kenya secretary general Eseli Simiyu strongly denied Jubilee was funding the party to split the coalition.
“Those are the usual allegations of ODM die-hards,” he said. Wetang’ula’s calls for Raila to hang up his boots have “sort of rubbed them the wrong way and they are overreacting,” Eseli told the Star yesterday.
Speaking in Narok on Sunday, Wetang’ula again asked Raila, 71, to shelve his presidential ambitions, be a kingmaker and back him and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka.
“He is our old man. We are not disrespecting him. We are telling him please, old man, now you have worked. You have your respect. You will have a special place in the Cord government. But be the kingmaker,”Wetangu’la said.
These threats and demands by affiliate parties angered ODM and director of commutations ;and supporters with ODM Director of communications Phillip Etale called Wetang’ula’s comments “immature”.
“Urging Raila to retire from politics by someone calling himself a co-principal in Cord is itself a sign of cowardice and immaturity in politics,” Etale said in an emotional post on Facebook.
ODM Treasurer Timothy Bosire also faulted Wiper and Ford Kenya, saying they directed missiles at their common house, instead of the common enemy: Jubilee.
“They should not waste energy directing their missiles inwards,” Bosire said.
On Sunday, Wiper appeared to rule out any possibility of Kalonzo missing the 2017 ballot and demanded Cord name its flagbearer by Christmas.
January is the target date, however.
Senator Omar recalled the acrimony between Kalonzo and the Jubilee duo — Kenyatta and William Ruto in 2012 — emphasising why the thorny issue of presidential flagbearer must be sorted well in advance.
“I am asking colleagues to be careful with our tongues,” Kalonzo warned. “I will continue working with anyone who assures me that I, Kalonzo, will not continue standing where I am in the opposition.”
However, both Omar and Eseli warned Uhuru will trounce the trio should they part ways.
“We are trying to ensure the coalition stands. Because if it doesn’t, then they would have given Jubilee an early Christmas,” Eseli said.
Kalonzo has asked Omar and Wiper treasurer Hezron Awiti to unite in removing Mombasa Governor Joho.
Joho, called ODM’s “superman”, is a close Raila confidant and any attack on him is an attack on Raila and the Orange Party.
Despite Raila’s talk of Cord unity, Kalonzo said much as he values unity, he has sacrificed more than any co-principal and should be standard bearer.
“I sacrificed for Mwai Kibaki, sacrificed for Raila Odinga and sacrificed for this nation. Who else can I sacrifice for? I must be on level higher than I am now after 2017,” he said.
Raila has been crisscrossing the country, consolidating his bases in huge political rallies. While his partners plot their own strategies.