With the race for next year’s General Election now in the home stretch, the future of Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi’s presidential campaigns now rest on three options, political observers say.
Law professor Kithure Kindiki says Mr Mudavadi’s chances of succeeding President Kibaki in March had suffered a body blow after parting ways with the Jubilee Alliance this week.
Mr Mudavadi had entered into a deal that would see The National Alliance leader Uhuru Kenyatta step down from the presidential race in his favour, with Eldoret North MP William Ruto as his running mate.
However, the DPM’s foot soldiers are putting on a brave face, vowing to fight all the way to the ballot box, amid speculation that some of the MPs allied to him plan to ditch his United Democratic Forum party.
According to Prof Kindiki Kithure the DPM now has at least three political options.
The first is to join Cord that brings together Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Trade minister Moses Wetang’ula and play a junior role but succeed in embarrassing Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto a bit further.
Speaker after speaker during the Cord rally at Uhuru Park on Saturday urged Mr Mudavadi to consider joining them with Mr Musyoka saying he was the DPM’s best example that there were no permanent enemies in the political arena.
The implication here is that Mr Mudavadi could use their failed marriage to project Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto in bad light with the hope that it could gain him some sympathy votes.
He could also run on his own or team up with one or two other miscellaneous presidential contenders “in which case he alone or with such others will get a few hundred votes and thereafter sink into political oblivion,” he said.
The third option, said Prof Kindiki, is for Mr Mudavadi to return to the Jubilee Alliance and be named Majority Leader in the House, and demand a third of government positions.
“But if he chooses this route and is to be Leader of Majority, he must run for a National Assembly seat since the Leader of Majority must be a member of the National Assembly,” said Prof Kindiki.
However, his foot soldiers, while admitting that Mr Mudavadi’s campaigns had suffered as a result of the squabbling that attended Mr Mudavadi’s brief but acrimonious stay in Jubilee, have vowed to fight all the way to the ballot box.
Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale, one of Mr Mudavadi’s key campaigners in Parliament, said that although they had envisaged the Jubilee Coalition giving Mr Mudavadi new winds in his sails, the parting was not a mortal blow.
Stuff of politics
“Our campaigns were not premised on coalitions although we understand how important they are in today’s politics. But what happened is the stuff of politics and we have to complete the race nonetheless,” he said.
Asked whether the DPM would consider entering a coalition with other parties, Dr Khalwale said: “You cannot decide in anger or in a hurry. Those decisions have to be considered.”
UDF chairman Hassan Osman said UDF would cooperate with “like-minded” parties without elaborating.
Pressed about reports of a possible coalition with Peter Kenneth’s Kenya National Congress, he said “those are details for another day.”
But even as he continues his lone presidential campaign, Mr Mudavadi faces another challenge; that of retaining some of his party members who have caught the interest of his opponents.
According to a Jubilee Coalition insider who requested not to be named, they intend to seduce Mandera Central MP Abdikadir Mohammed to the Jubilee Coalition with the promise of supporting him for the post of Speaker of the Senate.
Mr Abdikadir, the respected chairman of the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee of Parliament, is one of UDF’s biggest assets.
Some MPs from his northern Kenya backyard such as assistant minister Mohammed Mohammud on Friday defected to the Jubilee coalition.
However, Mr Mohammed laughed off the rumours by saying “I don’t do defections”.
The position of Majority Leader, which would have gone to Mr Mudavadi had he stayed in Jubilee, will be reserved for hard bargains that the party will be making in the coming weeks.
The position might as well be left unfilled until after the first round of elections in order to woo potential kingmakers.
The Jubilee insider revealed that Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Eugene Wamalwa remains one of their key targets for this position, even after ditching the coalition claiming that the post was too junior for him.
The Jubilee team is expected to unveil Mr Kenyatta as its presidential candidate in a delegates conference at Kasarani gymnasium on Sunday. UDF opposed a proposal to let delegates pick the party’s flagbearer.