President’s allies scuttle coalition negotiations with ODM

The talks, spearheaded by a five-man teams representing both sides, are meant to lead to a deal that would see the two biggest parties in the country field one presidential candidate in 2022.

But Mr Kenyatta’s allies say Jubilee is not ready for a coalition with ODM, arguing that the talks are destroying Jubilee’s chances of winning the by-elections this month and alienating the President in Mt Kenya.

Jubilee Deputy Secretary General Joshua Kutuny told the Saturday Nation that the talks are “premature”, adding that the party needs to concentrate on internal reorganisation first.

Mr Kutuny, former political adviser of President Kenyatta, also said the talks have not been sanctioned by the party leadership.

“We are not in discussions with ODM. Jubilee leaders and National Delegates Convention have not allowed such talks. It is premature for anybody to think we are talking,” the Cherangany MP said.

Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju said two weeks ago that the coalition talks are on, with National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed (ODM) giving the 10 names making up the team.

Jubilee is represented in the talks by its Vice-Chairman David Murathe, Mr Tuju, National Assembly Majority Whip Emmanuel Wangwe, Igembe North MP Maoka Maore and Samburu West MP Naisula Lesuuda.

On the ODM side is Party Chairman John Mbadi, Secretary General Edwin Sifuna, Mr Mohamed, Nominated Senator Agnes Zani and Kisii Woman Representative Janet Ong’era.

Asked about the committee, Mr Kutuny was dismissive.

Uhuru’s legacy

“No team that has been constituted. Someone picked their names without Jubilee’s approval,” he said.

He added that Jubilee would hold coalition talks with parties that support the March 9 handshake between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.

“The President is clear on such matters. If we have to talk, we will engage with the National Super Alliance (Nasa),” he said, referring to an opposition coalition that contested the 2017 General Election.

The alliance comprised ODM, Amani National Congress, Wiper Party, Ford Kenya, Chama Cha Mashinani and a host of smaller political outfits.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said this is not the time for building coalitions.

He said Jubilee should concentrate on helping President craft his legacy.

“Those from our party talking about coalitions are doing so at the wrong time,” he said.

Mr Wambugu, a critic of Deputy President William Ruto, said the decision to make the talks public has not been received well in Mt Kenya.

The MP said it was wrong for Mr Tuju, Mr Murathe and other Jubilee leaders to make public the talks,adding that it has given party rivals a campaign weapon.

Taming DP Ruto

“There was no wisdom in how the information was publicised. Timing is critical. The Kiambaa by-election is very sensitive, especially coming after the Juja one. We must not give our rivals in Kiambaa ammunition by suggesting that Jubilee and ODM will merge,” he said.

Mr Wambugu said whatever is being “contemplated” is a not a merger.

“Jubilee is also talking to Wiper, Kanu, ANC, Ford-K and many other parties,” he said.

According to proponents of the talks, the coalition would tame Dr Ruto and his “hustler” movement.

Opposition to the talks by Jubilee lawmakers is likely to rock the ruling party further following recent events in which the President appears to have been abandoned by some of his supporters.

However, ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna said the talks would go on as planned.

“The ODM constitution vests the power to lead negotiations on coalition-building on the party leader. He allowed Mr Mohammed and myself to initiate the negotiations. The product is what will be put before party organs for ratification,” Mr Sifuna said yesterday.

He added that the Jubilee-ODM coalition would form the next government.

Mr Sifuna said ODM would not repeat the mistakes it made in the past when forming alliances.

Hungry for power

Like other Jubilee lawmakers, National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya said the talks are not with ODM alone.

“Talks are on with interested parties. Our coalition with Kanu expires in 2022 so talks with that party must go on. We should look into the distant future. President Kenyatta is reaching out to leaders of these parties,” the Kipipiri MP said.

Mr Kimunya said Jubilee has initiated internal talks on what to present to the parties it hopes to form a coalition with.

“Who said Jubilee will not have a presidential candidate? The other parties we want to engage with will have presidential flagbearers and the best will be settled on, depending on what supporters say,” Mr Kimunya added.

Mr Kutuny said Jubilee has embarked on a transition plan since the President is stepping down next year “while his deputy is propagating ideologies of another party”.

“A decision to do away with Ruto as deputy party leader has to be made because Jubilee members have demanded it,” Mr Kutuny said.

“Jubilee will have many interim officials because there is leadership transition.”
Contacted, Dr Ruto’s team dismissed the comments.

The DP’s communication director Emmanuel Tallam said: “We do not usually respond to statements made at funerals or bars.”

According to Soy MP Caleb Kositany, the envisaged Jubilee-ODM coalition is not meant to unite the country as its proponents insist, but to block the DP from taking over from President Kenyatta.

“This is a merger of people who are hungry for power. I would want to hear what their ideology is. All they want is stopping the William Ruto and United Democratic Alliance wave,” Mr Kositany said.

Credit: Source link