Sunday, June 23, 2013

How Raila, Kalonzo talks roped in Kethi

PHOTO | FILE Ex-Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka consoles Kethi Kilonzo after the death of her father, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo.

PHOTO | FILE Ex-Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka consoles Kethi Kilonzo after the death of her father, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo.  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BOB ODALO [email protected]

Mutula Kilonzo’s daughter Kethi agreed to contest in the Makueni by-election after holding lengthy talks with top Cord leaders, the Nation has established.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and ex-Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka had discussions with her and on Friday, they pledged the party’s backing in the race for the Senate seat that fell vacant when her father, Mr Kilonzo, died on April 27.

The two will lead a convoy of vehicles on Monday to introduce the 36-year-old lawyer to Makueni voters during a road show expected to start from Nairobi to Ukambani.

Ms Kilonzo had opted out of the contest about three weeks ago when her step-mother Nduku Kilonzo chose to join the race.

At that time, she posted a tweet on her account saying it was taboo for a daughter to fight her mother.

Ms Kilonzo then announced that she was pulling out of the race — a decision that took the Cord leadership by surprise as she was considered a favourite in the Makueni Senate race.

Although three hopefuls —former Kenya National Union of Teachers treasurer Benson Kithuku, former army general Jones Mutwii and provincial administrator Wilfred Ndolo had expressed interest in the seat, Cord leaders were not satisfied they could present a formidable challenge to a Jubilee candidate.

It was this feeling that led to behind-the-scenes talks between Ms Kilonzo, Mr Odinga and the former VP.

Campaign plans

By Thursday, the advocate had given indications to the two that she would accept their request to honour her father’s legacy.

Senator Johnson Muthama, who has been the acting Makueni senator after Mutula’s death, said Cord had put in place plans to defend the seat.

“Kethi’s name is a brand. The tide is on our side for now and it is not a question of whether we will win the seat but how humiliating the defeat will be,” Mr Muthama said.

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