CORD Retreat Put Off after Wetang’ula, Kalonzo Withdraw
Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s coalition partners won’t be taking part in a planned three-day National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting that was planned for Nairobi this weekend.
The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) affiliate parties that include Raila’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) were to hold a joint NEC retreat from Saturday to Monday.
The meeting of top leaders from the parties was planned against the backdrop of recent differences over joint nominations and disagreements over the opposition’s presidential flag bearer in next year’s elections.
However, the joint NEC meeting flopped after Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper and Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya Thursday confirmed they would not attend, citing “other engagements”.
It appears the two parties are keen on sustaining their own political outreach missions across the country and do not want to appear like it is Raila’s ODM, which had a series of festivities to mark its 10th anniversary, that is active.
Thursday, Wiper Secretary General Hassan Omar and Ford Kenya deputy party leader Boni Khalwale explained they had already informed ODM of their decision.
“Wiper is readying itself to be an alternative (governing party). The NEC meeting would have interfered with our plans which we had put in place and we have requested that it is postponed,” said Omar referring to political activities by Kalonzo who is currently at the Coast and is scheduled to hold a rally at Mombasa’s Tononoka grounds on Sunday.
Omar explained that Wiper was moving across the country to popularise its agenda for Kenyans and reiterate its position on several issues, including that the opposition’s presidential candidate should run on a CORD ticket.
Mr Khalwale said Ford Kenya had also communicated earlier that it would not attend the NEC meeting, adding that he was not aware of the meeting’s agenda.
“It’s nothing sinister. It is because when our party leader agreed with other principals about the meeting he was not aware that we had other plans,” said Khalwale.
CORD’s top decision-making organ was expected to deliberate over thorny issues that have triggered sharp differences in the coalition, key among them joint nominations.
Wiper has proposed that only the presidential candidate should run on a CORD ticket while Ford-K favours the zoning formula where each party fields candidates where it is strong.
ODM supports the joint nomination process to come up with a single candidate for all elective positions.
Raila and ODM deputy party leader Hassan Joho will lead an ODM rally in Kisumu on Saturday to celebrate the party’s 10th anniversary.
Thursday, Mr Omar said joint nominations were tantamount to the dissolution of parties, adding that Wiper would only entertain such talks after the next elections.
Efforts to get a comment from ODM interim Secretary General Agnes Zani were futile as her phone went unanswered but Omar and Khalwale said they had informed them.
Raila, Kalonzo and Wetang’ula are tussling for the Coalition’s presidential ticket. CORD has tasked a team composed of representatives from the three parties to come up with a method of picking the coalition’s flag bearer.
Reports indicate the parties could hold a National Delegates Conference early next year to pick the flag bearer.