Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka on Saturday made the biggest concession in his political career when he stepped down from the presidential race and backed his former rival Raila Odinga for the presidency.
And, while making the endorsement, Mr Musyoka challenged President Kibaki to also throw his support behind the Prime Minister’s presidential campaign.
This is the second time Mr Odinga secures the support of a sitting Vice-President.
In 2002, Mr Odinga successfully moved away with former Vice-President George Saitoti to form the National Rainbow Coalition that removed Kanu from power.
Addressing a rally at Uhuru Park in Nairobi that was used by Cord to unveil its 2013 polls line-up, Mr Musyoka also called upon former President Moi, veteran politician Simeon Nyachae and former Vice-President Moody Awori to back Cord. (Read: Cord endorses PM Odinga for president, Kalonzo running mate)
Mr Musyoka announced that he had stepped down in favour of Mr Odinga to be the presidential candidate of Cord.
Amid jubilation by the crowd in attendance at Uhuru Park, Mr Musyoka said that in the interest of the nation, he would be PM Odinga’s running mate.
“At a crucial time in our nation’s history, the late George Saitoti told us that there comes a time when the nation is more important than any individual. Those words, which he spoke years ago, are truer now than ever before. This is why you have me repeatedly speak of Kenya mbele, vyote vingine nyuma (Kenya first, all the others behind),” Mr Musyoka said.
He added: “I have chosen to put Kenya’s best interests first and, for the sake of unity, for the sake of national integration, for the sake of showing an example of forgiveness, healing and reconciliation, to set aside my ambitions for the presidency and support Raila Amolo Odinga for President of Kenya.”
Mr Musyoka and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula said the decision to endorse PM Odinga was arrived at after lengthy negotiations.
Mr Musyoka said Mr Odinga argued that since he had vied for the presidency twice, he was best suited for the seat.
Mr Odinga first tried his luck for the presidency in 1997 and emerged third. In 2002, Mr Odinga rallied behind President Kibaki who won the polls.
The Langata MP’s fortunes improved tremendously in the disputed 2007 elections which he claimed to have won but was rigged out.
Mr Musyoka said he was ready to vie for the presidency in 2002 only for Mr Odinga to declare President Kibaki the best for the seat.
Mr Musyoka, who was together with Mr Odinga in the Orange Democratic Movement Party of Kenya before parting ways prior to the 2007 polls, emerged third in the elections.
The two former allies turned foes are, however, now back together again in Cord and exuded confidence of winning the March 4 elections.
Mr Musyoka said he will campaign more than ever before to ensure Cord wins.
The VP recalled how former Agriculture minister Kipruto Kirwa and former MP Joab Omino approached him at Serena Hotel for unity talks that resulted in the formation of Narc.
He said he had talks with Cord leaders for the better part of Friday on running of coalitions that resulted in yesterday’s unveiling of the team’s line-up.
“This is a time for wisdom and wise choices. We will reap the consequences, so make no mistake about it. Be sober and sure about the kind of leadership you choose in the next election,” Mr Musyoka said.
The VP said Cord’s opponents are not putting Kenya’s best interests first.
“There’s another agenda, they have admitted as much. I ask each and every Kenyan citizen to inquire why they should vote for such leadership,” Mr Musyoka said.
Mr Musyoka said he played a major role in ensuring peace and stability returned to Somalia and that terrorists would not be allowed to continue attacking Kenya.
Mr Wetang’ula said he had ambitions to be Kenya’s president but only realised that the dream could only be realised through unity.