RAILA WAS WRONG-THIRD FORCE TO DECIDE WINNER

It is not going to be a two horse race.THE result of the March 4 election may well be decided by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi. They are the potential kingmakers if they throw in their lot with Prime Minister Raila Odinga. But they could tip the balance the other way if they make a deal with Uhuru Kenyatta and the G7 Alliance.

The political landscape is still a work in progress with multiple possibilities for alliances before the election. Last week’s Infotrak poll showed that a Raila-Kalonzo combo for president and deputy president would defeat the joint ticket of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto.

If Mudavadi joined up with Raila, the two would also win. On the other hand, Raila would lose if he paired up with Speaker Kenneth Marende or Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, according to Infotrak.

As a result, Uhuru has reached out to Kalonzo Musalia in a bid to get them to join his alliance. “We are asking our brothers, including Kalonzo, to join us so that we can win in the first round,” said Uhuru yesterday while on a tour of Meru.

This week the Star reported that Uhuru will not register his coalition until the final day, presently December 4, because he wants to get as many heavyweights in as possible, and fears that rivalries may cause some to drop out if he registers too early.

But Kalonzo is apparently determined to be on the ballot as a presidential candidate, with or without an alliance. He does not want to be the kingmaker, he wants to be the king.

Yesterday in Kitui Kalonzo dismissed the polls and insisted that he was in the race to succeed President Kibaki. He said it was too late in the day for him to drop his presidential bid and urged Kenyans to ignore opinion polls.

This week Ipsos Synovate ranked Kalonzo fourth with 8 per cent support, behind the leader Raila with 33 per cent; Uhuru 26 per cent; and William Ruto 9 per cent.

He said the surveys were intended to undermine his candidacy on a Wiper Democratic Movement ticket. Nevertheless Raila is expected to intensify his efforts to seek coalition talks with Kalonzo and Musalia in the coming week.

He needs conclude his coalition before the December 4 deadline when all coalition agreements are due to be deposited with the Registrar of Political Parties. “We will most likely conclude our talks with Kalonzo and Musalia’s teams next week,” said Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang.

Raila, according to multiple sources, would like to rope in both Kalonzo and Mudavadi to pursue a first round win. He is yet to meet either of them personally but both Musalia and Mudavadi are said to be reluctant to do a deal with Raila.

However the Third Force of a Kalonzo-Mudavadi team would not appear to have the numbers to beat Uhuru or Raila. Realpolitik could dictate that a deal that gives a share of power is better than the high-risk strategy of going it alone and losing everything.

Kalonzo and Mudavadi announced an alliance on Wednesday. One negotiator for the new alliance told the Star that Kalonzo and Mudavadi now need to join either Uhuru or Raila, but that the best option would be to approach Raila as a block and cut a tough deal with him.

Raila-Kalonzo against Uhuru-Ruto would win all provinces except Central and Rift Valley with an aggregate score of 52 per cent against 48 per cent, according to Infotrak.

Yesterday Mudavadi began a tour of Central Province. “Of all the candidates, I’m the only one capable of uniting the country,” said Mudavadi told rallies. Mudavadi’s close allies Ndiritu Muriithi, President Kibaki’s nephew, and Jeremiah Kioni of Kandara are reportedly working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that he gets at least 20 per cent of the Central Province vote.

“Those who are saying Uhuru has locked up Central and dreaming. We will fight for a share of this vote,” said Muriithi. The Ipsos Synovate poll this week also showed that Mudavadi and Kalonzo would have no chance of beating Uhuru or Raila in a run off. In a Musalia-Uhuru contest, Uhuru would win by 47-36 margin. In a Uhuru-Kalonzo run off, Uhuru would win by an even wider margin of 49-28.

-The Star

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