The opposition alliance’s retreat that had been set to start Monday has been rescheduled to begin today, according to one of the principals. Last evening, Ford-Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula said he and his colleagues in the National Super Alliance (NASA) would start their meeting today. Earlier, it had emerged that the absence of one of the principals, the expected entry of Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, and outstanding issues on power-sharing were among the reasons that prompted the postponement of the retreat.
Delicate talks Also cited were concerns that too much publicity could undermine the delicate talks and apprehension that holding the crucial meeting with the ongoing contentious party primaries could send signals to the grassroots that could influence the nominations. Initially, the National Super Alliance (NASA) had announced that the four opposition leaders would meet on April 17, 18, and 19 to consider a report by the National Coordinating Committee (NCC) on the coalition’s presidential flag-bearer and power-sharing proposals.
The much-awaited retreat was put off after ODM leader Raila Odinga travelled to South Africa over the Easter holiday to visit his ailing daughter, Rosemary, and was expected back in the country either last evening or this morning. “We cannot go to a retreat because some of the principals are not present. Raila is in South Africa while Kalonzo Musyoka had travelled to Dubai,” said Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi. Mr Mudavadi added: “The principals can only have a full meeting when all of them are around.” Mr Kalonzo had, however, returned to the country by yesterday. When contacted, Kalonzo alluded to a change of strategy. The Wiper party leader said the intention was to keep the schedule of the retreat a closely guarded secret. “We want this meeting to remain a mystery. We know that there is huge interest but we don’t want to be infiltrated and that’s why we are not disclosing any details,” he said. While disputing a leaked report that suggested a Raila-Kalonzo ticket had been recommended, Siaya Senator James Orengo, a member of the National Coordinating Committee (NCC), had announced that a decision on the coalition’s flag-bearer would be made during a retreat of NASA principals which he indicated was scheduled for April 17, 18, and 19.
Reports received yesterday had indicated that the retreat might be delayed for two or three days after Governor Ruto agreed to join NASA as the fifth principal. It is understood that Ruto will be received in Nairobi before the end of the week and will hold discussions with the four principals before they all fly down to the Coast to agree not only on who among them would fly the opposition flag, but also the power-sharing formula. The NASA chiefs are set to hold what they term a scheduled meeting in Nairobi this morning and it is not clear whether Ruto will join them. Yesterday, the governor confirmed that he would meet the four principals. “I will be meeting the NASA principals. However, for now I am conducting party primaries between Tuesday and Wednesday. So we will be meeting from Thursday heading to the weekend,” said Ruto. Fine-tuning report Asked if he had been invited to the Coast retreat, Ruto replied: “Who told you the retreat will be in Mombasa? It can be anywhere and yes I will be attending the retreat.”
“There is a need for more time so that the coalition is able to bring Ruto on board and work on ways of accommodating him and what his stake in the coalition will be,” said a source privy to the discussions. He, however, confirmed that the retreat would take place before the end of the month. Although NCC had completed its report, a technical committee was said to be fine-tuning it own on power-sharing. The NASA technical team will be compelled to adjust its document to incorporate Ruto’s Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM). Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire, a member of NCC, said his team had done its work.