Raila Odinga party under fire in Nasa cracks

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In the wake of a raging storm over the opposition’s presidential flagbearer, Nasa leaders Kalonzo Musyoka (left) and Musalia Mudavadi address the media after meeting at Wiper party headquarters on April 12, 2017. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Amani National Congress chief Musalia Mudavadi on Wednesday demanded an apology from ODM for releasing a statement saying Nasa has settled on Raila Odinga as its flagbearer.

The two leaders said no deal had been struck and that ODM’s statement was premature and inaccurate.

“We do not want speculations over a matter of national importance as this,” said Mr Musyoka. “We want people to be patient, then in one month we will have a candidate.”

Mr Mudavadi said progress on the search for Nasa’s main man was being challenged by “too much rumours and speculation”. He said the public will learn from the four principals when an agreement is reached.

“No one else will make such an announcement but the principals when a deal is finally reached,” said Mr Mudavadi at a press conference at Wiper Democratic Movement headquarters in Nairobi.

NO DEAL

Mr Musyoka added: “We insist that there is no deal until there is a deal. We demand an apology from ODM over the remarks attributed to their secretary-general.”

A statement by the ODM secretary-general, Dr Agnes Zani, on Tuesday said Mr Odinga would be deputised by Mr Musyoka while Mr Mudavadi would be chief minister with Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula being asked to choose between Speaker of the National Assembly or the Senate. Dr Zani is a member of Nasa’s National Co-ordinating Committee.

On Wednesday, however, the co-chairmen of committee disowned Dr Zani’s statement, insisting that there was no agreement on the presidential candidate and his running mate.

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Dr Zani, an ODM nominated senator, had on Tuesday appeared to endorse a report alleging to reveal the alliance’s agreement, saying the line-up presented therein had been agreed on by the committee.

NOTHING TO SAY

Siaya Senator James Orengo, who co-chairs the committee as ODM’s representative, discredited Dr Zani’s assertion, saying: “It’s like going into a house and looking for a rat to tell you the state of affairs of that house instead of looking for the owner. I think it’s better if you look at the source of the information.”

The senator added: “There is really nothing that she said. If you look at the bottom line of that statement, I think there is nothing really to say. This is a firestorm.

“The way the story has come out is that there is a split, there is a firestorm, but you can see the four of us are here representing all the parties. We are the people with the authority from the National Super Alliance. Why should you listen to somebody else who doesn’t have that authority?”

Mr Orengo spoke at his Lonrho House offices, where he was with Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama (Wiper) and MPs Eseli Simiyu (Amani) and Sakwa Bunyasi (Ford-K). Dr Zani and Amani Secretary-General Godfrey Osotsi sat in an adjacent office.

FALLOUT WITHIN

Wednesday’s statements followed meetings, one of which lasted until 2 am on Tuesday, to find ways of easing fears of a fallout within the Opposition. Mr Odinga is reported to have met Mr Mudavadi that night while the Amani leader, in turn, went to the Wiper headquarters early yesterday morning to meet Mr Musyoka.

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On wednesday, Mr Mudavadi defended his supporters who held demonstrations to denounce the reports of an Odinga-Musyoka ticket, saying people were anxious.

“Those protests are normal,” he said. “People are very anxious; that is why they are behaving that way.”

Mr Mudavadi urged Nasa supporters not to worry because a final agreement was in the offing, adding that the most important thing for Nasa was to defeat President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jubilee government.

Mr Muthama equated Dr Zani’s statement to similar divisive remarks by National Assembly Minority Leader Francis Nyenze to the effect that Wiper would quit Nasa if Mr Musyoka was not made the flagbearer.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH

Mr Muthama said of Dr Zani: “That is called democracy and the freedom of speech. If somebody decides to speak outside there, don’t ask us why they have spoken. Ask them why they are saying what they are saying.”

Mr Orengo likened Dr Zani’s statement to the disparate views that often come out of American President Donald Trump’s team. He said: “Even in Trump’s team during the elections, there were people saying all sorts of things. Even now, you know, there are elements in Trump’s team who have a different take on Korea, on Nato.

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“But what is the official position of the National Super Alliance? The official position is that there is no split, there is no firestorm.”

NO SPLIT

He described Tuesday night’s meeting as a sign of the unity within Nasa, adding that there was no split within the alliance “on any question”.

“We have been holding regular meetings and, last week, I think we told you we reported to the Summit and we reported to them on the basis of work in progress,” said Mr Orengo. “Now we are preparing a further report for purposes of the retreat which will be held by the Summit sometimes next week.”

Mr Orengo said all the organs were working within the terms of reference set for them in the agreement signed by the alliance’s principals in January. The committee was keen to complete its work by the time the nominations are held by April 26, he added.

Dr Simiyu said the committee is making “very good progress” while Mr Muthama said the work was 95 per cent complete.

Mr Bunyasi said the spotlight should be on the substance of the process and not fringe matters or statements.

“You, the Press, would help if you focused on the issues that are being considered rather than the little things individuals might say anonymously,” said Mr Bunyasi.

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