Kalonzo wants Raila to back him in 2017

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Kalonzo_RailaWiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka is quietly pushing his Cord co-principal Raila Odinga to abandon a fourth presidential bid and instead back him in the 2017 contest against President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The Star has established the former Vice President has been sending emissaries — especially Raila’s closest allies — to dissuade him from running since they say his candidacy may not be supported by the majority of Kenyans.

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It is not clear why Kalonzo, 61, believes Raila, 70, is unlikely to defeat Uhuru.

The fact the former Vice President (2008-2013) is seriously eyeing the presidency is likely to complicate the political arithmetic for Cord as Raila is perceived to be the coalition’s de facto presidential standard bearer.

“He (Kalonzo) has personally told me he has a better chance of beating President Uhuru than Raila, so he wants Raila to step down for him,” an ODM MP told the Star yesterday, speaking on condition he not be quoted by name.

Raila has all but declared, while not officially throwing his hat into the ring. Kalonzo has not formally declared, though Wiper is pushing him. Wetang’ula has declared he’s in the race.

While Kalonzo has done little publicly to prepare as yet, Raila has been busy revamping his ODM Party as he girds for yet another battlewith Uhuru.

Part of Raila’s 2017 game plan is to harvest the youth vote through personal contact and several new media platforms, including an SMS interactive number and a website.

Raila has identified a core team of campaigners and he is understood to be consulting foreign companies to help manage his public image.

To reverse the tyranny of numbers said to have cost him the election, the former Prime Minister is mobilising his strongholds, especially in Western and Nyanza, for massive voter registration.

Sources said Kalonzo is relying on an a pre-election pact among Cord co-principals that Raila would only lead for five years, then pass the baton to him.

“He believes it is his turn and that Raila should respect that agreement, even though they lost elections,” a Wiper MP said.

On many occasions, Kalonzo has publicly referred to the MoU but declined to to disclose its contents.

“That is privileged information and I would rather it remain so. What is important is unity of purpose in Cord, not details of the MoU. The coalition members must all work to achieve this unity,” Kalonzo said last year.

However, Raila’s backers say the MoU is invalid because Raila was never elected President.

They say the former Prime Minister remains the opposition’s best candidate to unseat Uhuru.

“Take it from me, the only way he (Raila) will not be there (on the ballot) is if the world ends or Jesus comes back before 2017,” ODM Director of Campaign Junet Mohamed is reported to have said.

Ironically, while Kalonzo is pushing to be the opposition’s flag bearer, Jubilee honchos say he failed Raila and the Cord team in the 2013 contest.

Deputy President William Ruto said on Sunday Uhuru will beat Raila hands down again in 2017 if he picks Kalonzo as his running mate.

Wetang’ula has on numerous occasions said Cord will conduct a joint nomination to pick its top candidate and said he stands a good chance of being selected.

-the-star.co.ke

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