Political re-alignments continued to shape up ahead of the March 4 General Election with Water Minister Charity Ngilu set to ditch the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) which she joined last week after a brief flirtation with the rival Jubilee alliance.
Mrs Ngilu will on Monday morning start holding consultative meetings with her supporters in Kitui and Makueni counties before announcing her defection from the Raila Odinga-Kalonzo Musyoka led Cord to the Jubilee alliance of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.
Top officials of the Water minister’s Narc party were on Sunday holed up in a meeting in Nairobi to ratify the move.
“We are right now locked in a NEC meeting to discuss the way forward, but it is as good as confirmed that we are out of Cord. We are talking to TNA and Jubilee alliance, but we will let you know our final decision at the end of the meeting,” Narc secretary-general Onesmus Nguli told the Nation.
A press release from Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo announced that Ms Ngilu will hold three consultative meetings to seek the views of her supporters on the political direction she should take.
Contacted, Mr Kilonzo could not deny or confirm that Ms Ngilu was set to join the Jubilee alliance only insisting: “We are going to talk to the people of Makueni and Kitui counties on the direction we want to take before making a formal announcement.”
But according to Narc spokesman Alex Ng’ang’a, Mrs Ngilu will contest the joint presidential nominations with Mr Kenyatta and Mr Musalia Mudavadi of UDF before agreeing on how to equitably share positions in government in an “all inclusive structure.”
And as Mrs Ngilu and her party planned to dump the Cord alliance, Deputy Prime Minister Mudavadi, who was on Thursday accused by 40 MPs from Central Kenya of being used by powerful people in government to force Mr Kenyatta to relinquish the Jubilee alliance presidential ticket, was holed up in Naivasha for a UDF meeting. (Read: Entry of KANU into Jubilee Coalition causes jitters)
Top organs of UDF were working on strategies to ensure Mr Mudavadi becomes the Jubilee alliance’s presidential nominee.
By the time of going to press, top party leaders had resolved to remain in the coalition that brings together UDF, Mr Kenyatta’s TNA and Mr Ruto’s URP despite threats by MPs from the Mt Kenya region to quit if Mr Kenyatta was denied the ticket.
MPs from URP were also against Kanu being part of the alliance after it turned out that the former ruling party had its own pact with Mr Mudavadi’s party.
Addressing journalists at the Great Rift Valley Lodge, UDF political council chairman Abdulkadir Mohamed said they were studying the party’s nomination process with a view of having a joint nomination process for all the positions.
“We are also working on harmonising our policies, manifestos and guiding principles,” he said during the press briefing.
The party, he added, had less than 10 days to file agreements, including the choice of the presidential candidate with the Registrar of Political Parties.
Mr Mohamed said they were also urgently developing coalition infrastructure and joint institutions like the unity council, advisory council, joint coalition secretariat, elections board and coalition dispute resolution council.
He downplayed emerging difference between the TNA and UDF over the choice of presidential candidate, saying the party had “a very high respect for its coalition partners.”
“One of the things that we are maintaining at the Jubilee coalition was high regard and respect for our partners. Of course emotions and stakes are still very high,” he said.
Mr Mohamed, flanked by Mr Mudavadi who did not address the journalists, denied that the party torchbearer was a “state project” as alleged. “We have been hearing this for a very a long time, but we will not be derailed on our goals,” he said.
And speaking separately, Mr Ruto denied that there were plans for Mr Kenyatta to step down for Mr Mudavadi.
He was speaking at Kerugoya St Thomas Cathedral during the consecration and enthronement of the third Kirinyaga Diocese Anglican Church bishop.
Mr Ruto insisted that Mr Kenyatta was still in the presidential race.
However, he said Mr Kenyatta and Mr Mudavadi of UDF will fight it out in the nominations.
“We are democratic and the two gentlemen will be subjected to free and fair nominations,” he said.
On Saturday, Mr Kenyatta dismissed claims that he will shelve his presidential ambitions in favour of Mr Mudavadi. He blamed “enemies of the Jubilee coalition” for creating confusion over his candidature. (Read:Uhuru vows to take Mudavadi head-on)
And speaking during a Cord rally in Vihiga County on Sunday, Wiper Democratic Movement, ODM and Ford Kenya MPs drummed up support for Mr Odinga to be the coalition’s presidential torch bearer. (Read:Cord hints at endorsing PM Odinga for race)
Kangundo MP Johnstone Muthama led the crowd in declaring that Mr Odinga fits to be Cord presidential candidate.
“We are saying that ‘Raila Tosha’, not just because he is a politician but because we know what he stands for and would help take the country to where it should be,” Mr Muthama said.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Ford Kenya chairman Moses Wetang’ula on Saturday in Sabatia, Kakamega County.
“We will on mutual agreement front Mr Odinga as the lead soldier in the presidential race to wrestle our opponents,” he stated.
Roads Minister Franklin Bett and Energy assistant minister Magerer Lang’at on Sunday denied reports that they were planning to defect from ODM.
Industrialisation minister Henry Kosgey also denied reports that he plans to leave Cord.