Both Raila’s co-principals in Cord, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula, believe that they should be the presidential candidate in 2017 but the Cord leader’s supporters consider him the obvious choice.
Last week the internal contradictions in Cord became clear when Raila failed to attend the launch Wetangula’s presidential campaign in Kakamega and ODM leaders dismissed an MoU that Raila signed in 2013 for Kalonzo to be rhe candidate in 2017 and Wetangula in 2022.
Yesterday Suna East MP Junet Mohammed, a key ally of Raila, said the Cord leader was ready for an open selection process and would not force himself on the coalition.
“It should be clear that the Hon. Raila is ready for any electoral competition within Cord. We are also ready for consensus, appointment or anointment,” he told the Star.
Raila famously helped Mwai Kibaki to become President in 2002 with his campaign rallying cry of ‘Kibaki Tosha’. He is a far stronger potential candidate in the opinion polls than either Kalonzo or Wetangula but some strategists argue that the best way to defeat Jubilee is for Raila to say either Wetangula or Kalonzo ‘Tosha’.
However Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, ODM Deputy Leader, was less diplomatic and belied Junet’s promise of an open selection for the Cord presidential candidate. He clearly did not see any scenario where Wetangula could become the Cord candidate in 2017.
“I take serious issue with Hon Moses Wetangula’s weekend call to the Luhya community to join Ford- Kenya and reject any politician who is not in this party,” Oparanya said. “That statement goes against the spirit of the Coalition and raises questions about Hon Wetangula’s commitment to Cord and why the Coalition should back him when he is wrecking, undermining and weakening it from within.” (see Oparanya’s full text on Page 5).
The Ford Kenya general council is due to meet on Friday to discuss whether the party should stay in the Cord coalition for the 2017 polls.
Wetangu’la and Ford Kenya aspirants campaigned in Budalangi at the weekend, apparently seeking to topple ODM Secretary General Ababau Namwamba in his own backyard.
Wetangu’la appeared to suggest that Raila should retire from elective politics and back him and Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka.
“Raila should be there
saying I have done my part, mine is now just to guide you young turks,” Wetangula said.
These divisions in the opposition make it increasingly unlikely that Cord will be able to topple Jubilee and President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2017, specially now that Deputy President William Ruto has had his case dropped in the Hague.
However Cord Management Committee Co-Chair Johnston Muthama insisted the coalition remains intact.
“Democracy must be understood and allowed to exist. Cord is more solid than ever before,” Muthama said, adding that legislators from the three Cord affiliate parties have a right to champion their party leaders.
The Machakos senator however criticised a section of MPs whom he said were “Jubilee sympathisers” who should not speak on behalf of Cord. He mentioned Mbooni MP Kisoi Munyao by name.
On Sunday Kisoi told the Star, “If Raila does not endorse Kalonzo, there will be no Cord. People are tired of political conmanship that is the greatest disaster in this country.”
Muthama rejected Kisoi’s position saying only committed Wiper leaders such as Kitui Senator David Musila could comment on party affairs.
In a commentary in the Sunday Nation Junet linked the turbulence in Cord to “deal-making and materialism”.
“Cord was formed primarily to “win” the 2013 elections. There are those amongst us who expected a quick victory, not this long drawn, painful struggle…The intra-Cord wars, if they get fully blown out, will only lengthen the suffering of Kenyans. Cord unity is vital; the alternative is chaos,” Junet wrote.
In another sign of internal division, Oparanya reminded Wetangu’la that in 2007 he joined President Mwai Kibaki to “steal” Raila’s victory in the 2007 election.
“At that time, even our neighbours from the Rift Valley had teamed up with us to form a formidable western alliance that would have kept power in this region,” Oparanya said.
Some For Kenya MPs have been calling for the postponement of the Friday council meeting to give the National Executive Council enough time to prepare the agenda.
However Secretary General Eseli Simiyu said the meeting will go on as planned.
“As far as I know, the meeting is on this Friday. NEC will meet before the general council so there is no need to call it off,” said Eseli, MP for Tongaren.
The general council meeting will discuss the chaos in Kakamega on April 3 ago that blighted Wetang’ula’s 2017 presidential launch.
MP Wafula Wamunyinyi of Ford-Kenya denied that the Friday meeting was called to review the Kakamega chaos or to withdraw from ODM.
“The meeting has been on the party’s calendar for long. We will be meeting to review the party activities within the coalition and how we can move forward. It has nothing to do with severing our ties with our colleagues,” Wamunyinyi said.