Quest for opposition unity ahead of polls begins

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Cord
Cord leader Raila Odinga, and other members, addresses reporters at Capitol Hill on December 22, 2016. Over 15,000 delegates drawn from various political parties meet at Bomas of Kenya on Wednesday. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The quest for opposition unity ahead of the next general election will be put to test on Wednesday when over 15,000 delegates drawn from various political parties troop to Bomas of Kenya to deliberate on the controversial electoral laws.

The meeting is expected to draw delegates from the three Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) affiliate parties — ODM, Wiper and Ford Kenya — as well as new entrants in the push for opposition unity like Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress, Charity Ngilu’s Narc, Gideon Moi’s Kanu, Isaac Ruto’s Chama cha Mashinani and Wavinya Ndeti’s Chama cha Uzalendo.

Wednesday’s event is also expected to be attended by former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo and thousands of politicians who have declared interest in gunning for various seats in the coming election on Opposition ticket.

“Kanu will be there in full force,” the party’s secretary general Nick Salat confirmed to the Nation on Saturday.

The meeting will provide the Opposition the opportunity to display its new found unity. Insiders told the Nation that the Opposition bigwigs led by Mr Odinga, Mr Mudavadi and Mr Musyoka are in the process of cobbling a new formation akin to the one crafted in 2002 when the Opposition swept aside Kanu from power.

The Wednesday meeting will deliberate on a number of issues including way forward after the passage of a controversial legislation on elections in the Senate and the National Assembly.

The mobilisation within the Opposition ranks is geared towards building a consensus around any of the top leading lights of the anti-Kenyatta regime without a central focus on any specific candidate.
Last week saw a flurry of meetings between the key Opposition chiefs as they explored ways and means of forging a common front, seen as the only way of dislodging the ruling Jubilee coalition from power come the next General Election.

The team so far assembled includes Mr Odinga, Mr Musyoka, Mr Mudavadi, Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula and Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho.

Others include Kakamega Governor Wyclife Oparanya, Ms Ndeti, Ms Ngilu and Mr Jirongo.

Commenting on how the Opposition plans to counter the government machinery that could be unveiled in the 2017 elections by the ruling regime, Mr Odinga expressed confidence that the Opposition will unite to send home President Kenyatta this time round.

“We will tell Kenyans that this is the same old Kanu we came together and defeated in 2002. It has come back with new tricks on corruption, ethnicity and dictatorship, among other known Kanu evils,” said Mr Odinga.

The Cord leader who is in Ghana argues that victory against President Kenyatta is inevitable and asked all non-registered voters in all Cord strongholds to register and vote during the 2017 poll.

SERIOUS ELECTION MACHINE

All presidential candidates within the Opposition have toned down on their individual presidential campaigns to give more attention to the new formation that is being created.

On Wednesday this week, Mr Odinga visited Mr Wetang’ula at his Karen home, while in Mombasa ODM Deputy Party leader Hassan Joho also hosted Mr Mudavadi for talks.

“What we are crafting is a serious election machine. You can see the Jubilee regime must have sensed defeat. They know there is a national fatigue. People are tired of corruption and they want to fix it once and for all,” said Suna East MP Junet Mohammed who is a close confidante of Mr Odinga.

He argues: “Once the roadmap is drawn and all team members enlisted, Jubilee will only have one option — election rigging.”
He said that Mr Odinga is committed to a joint venture just as the other Opposition leaders and each of them is playing a role in cobbling a united force that will bring all Kenyan communities together.

Said Mr Mohammed: “We can’t continue like this. We must make sure we build a country where all communities feel they are respected and they belong here.”

On Wednesday, another curious meeting took place between Mr Wetang’ula and Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno.

On the same day, Mr Wetang’ula also met Mr Musyoka before engaging Mr Jirongo and Kakamega Senator Dr Boni Khalwale.

Mr Jirongo later featured at a high profile press conference addressed by Mr Musyoka where the Cord coalition gave directions on how the Opposition will conduct itself following the passage of the controversial Election (Amendment) Act 2016.

“We are working to ensure we unite everybody in this country so that we can move forward together. It should not be taken that when Jirongo is seen with Wetang’ula then it is about fighting Musalia or that when Musalia is seen with Jirongo then it is about Wetang’ula,” he said.

OPPOSOTION CONVENTION

Prior to the Friday press conference, Mr Odinga had held a meeting with Mr Mudavadi and Ms Ndeti the previous night during which they agreed to convene what they termed as an “opposition convention” at Bomas of Kenya.

During the deliberations, Ms Ndeti reached Ms Ngilu on phone and briefed her on the deliberations while inviting her to attend the convention with representatives from her Narc party.

Mr Odinga and Mr Mudavadi did not attend the Friday press conference as the former had already left for Ghana while the ANC leader was attending the requiem mass for former nominated MP Mark Too.

ANC deputy party leader Ayub Savula who is said to have played a key role in re-uniting Mr Odinga and Mr Mudavadi said that the former Deputy Prime Minister has been mandated to talk to all Opposition leaders unconditionally.

“We have mandated him to chart the way forward for the Luhya community and have open discussions with his colleagues in the Opposition freely,” said Mr Savula.

The Opposition leaders are also working out ways on how to reach out to Baringo Senator Gideon Moi who is said to be blowing cold and hot on the Opposition unity so far.

“We have been trying to talk to Mr Moi. But he is very difficult to understand. At some point you feel like he is with you, but he keep sending mixed signals. His reliability is in doubt,” said an leader who is playing a significant role in crafting the deal.

On Wednesday Mr Moi created an impression during the debate that he was in support of the Opposition views on the Election Amendment (Act) 2016 debate. But his voting in support of the Jubilee position appeared to betray his Opposition leanings.

-nation.co.ke

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