alexa We are ready to quit Kanu says Rainbow - Daily Nation

We are ready to quit Kanu says Rainbow

Monday September 23 2002


By NJERI RUGENE and JEFF OTIENO

The Rainbow Alliance yesterday gave the first indication that the Kanu group would turn itself into a political party.

Kanu secretary-general Raila Odinga told a rally at Nairobi's Uhuru Park that the Rainbow Alliance could turn into a political party should the group fail to get "justice" during the presidential nominations at Kasarani early next month.

Said Mr Odinga: "If things turn out to be bad, Rainbow will be a party. And since you know a rainbow has many colours, NAK and our other friends will be in it to form a huge and unstoppable river.''

Mr Odinga and his rainbow colleagues were addressing a rally attended by an estimated 60,000 people and addressed by key Opposition leaders, among them MPs James Orengo, Paul Muite and Mukhisa Kituyi, representatives of National Alliance Party of Kenya (NAK) and Mr Simeon Nyachae's Kenya People's Coalition.

Rainbow leaders George Saitoti, Joseph Kamotho, Kalonzo Musyoka, William Ntimama, Moody Awori and George Khaniri indicated the alliance would join hands with the Opposition groups if they did not get justice in Kasarani.

The prime movers in the Rainbow – a Kanu faction opposed to President Moi's choice of Local Government Minister Uhuru Kenyatta as the party's presidential nominee – argue that this would be the ultimate option if presidential nominations scheduled for Kasarani on October 8 are rigged in favour of one candidate.

Independent sources indicated that an existing party has already been identified and would quickly be transformed into "Rainbow Coalition Party" with an immediate agenda of linking up with other Opposition parties.

Although it was not clear whether the NAK grouping of 14 parties under DP leader Mwai Kibaki, Ford Kenya's Kijana Wamalwa and Mrs Charity Ngilu of the National Party of Kenya, would join the Rainbow team, insiders in the faction spoke of "high level consultations".

The sources said that the Kenya Peoples Coalition would be willing to join the Rainbow.

Yesterday, speakers at the rally said they would go back to their people for direction, depending on the treatment accorded them at Kasarani. The Rainbow leaders said they would not be intimidated and would go to Kasarani to take part in the nominations, which they insisted should be done by secret ballot. They urged Kenyans to turn out in large numbers to witness the Kasarani nominations.

Mr Odinga, the Energy Minister, said the fact that so many Kenyans had turned up at Uhuru Park was an indication that the people wanted change and that they were tired of carrying "extra baggage on their shoulders".

He added: "We shall go to Kasarani and face them squarely. We have information they are manipulating the list of delegates but we want to assure them they are wasting their time and energy.''

When he agreed to dissolve his National Development Party and merge with Kanu on March 18, he said, it was with the understanding that the new Kanu product would be a democratic party prepared to move with the times. However, he said, the party had been messed up by some few elements who still harbour the old party mentality.

The Langata MP declared he would not be distracted in his fight for justice and democracy within Kanu. "I am telling them that this time they have rang the wrong number," he said.

Mr Odinga said he would never "kneel before'' Mr Njoroge Mungai, who was last week appointed by Kanu chairman President Moi to be his personal assistant. He described Mr Mungai as a "spent force''.

Prof Saitoti told Kenyans to reject those who were attempting to build a wall similar to the Berlin Wall between the Rainbow Alliance and the people. He declared that it was time Kenyans spoke with one voice and rejected those who were working against the wishes of the people.

He said: "Kenyans must be given the opportunity and the right to elect a person of their choice. In Rainbow, we have declared that our nominee must be appointed in broad daylight in a free and fair process.''

The former vice-president insisted that the alliance members would not go for anything less than the secret ballot, with bonafide delegates taking part.

Prof Saitoti recalled the humiliation he was subjected to during the March 18 Kanu merger and compared himself to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, whose post of vice-president was split into eight provincial ones in November 1967.

He said: "When I learnt of the plan to split my position as Kanu's number two position into four, I started smelling a rat. When I went to Kasarani, I found my name had been removed from the list (of officials). That is when I pulled out and said sitaki huo upuuzi! ( I do not want that nonsense). At that moment, I told Kenyans that they would prove me right some day. That moment is here now.''

He told the crowd, amidst shouts of "Saitoti for President'', that he felt morally obliged to offer himself to contest the presidency.

Prof Saitoti revealed that he had seen indications that he was falling out of favour with President Moi about a year-and-a-half ago from the poor coverage he allegedly got on the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation radio and television.

He said: "Before, my news would be slotted number two after the President, later I slid to number three..then to 10 and when I realised that even chiefs received more prominence, I sensed things were not right.''

Prof Saitoti accused KBC of "conducting itself like a communist propaganda machine.''

The Kajiado North MP said that Kenya needed leaders who would respect and work to strengthen institutions.

Mr Musyoka praised the constitutional proposals released by the Prof Yash Pal Ghai's team and asked Kenyans to support the effort.

The Tourism and Information Minister asked Kenyans to demand that elections be held under a new constitution, saying the country had invested "heavily'' in the review process.

Said Mr Musyoka, one of Kanu's four vice-chairmen: "We do not want to commit a fraud of monumental proportions by dismissing a process in which the nation has invested billions. In fact, we should make a Uhuru Park Declaration demanding a new constitution before the elections.''

Mr Musyoka dismissed criticism by his Cabinet colleagues Julius Sunkuli and Isaac Ruto of the draft constitution, saying their sentiments were self-serving. The Mwingi North MP declared that the Rainbow movement was "unstoppable and irresistible'' and pledged "to stay put in the alliance''. The Rainbow Alliance members were the "real owners" of Kanu and could only be removed by a delegates conference, he said.

Kabete MP Muite challenged the Rainbow members to show the people direction and tell them whether or not they were to unite with the Opposition to remove President Moi and his group from power.

Said the Safina leader: "These people have come here in droves because they want change. They want you to give them direction. People want Rainbow, the Kenya Peoples Coalition, NAK and Mr Orengo to unite. If this happens, Moi will be left alone with his project.''

Mr Ntimama, who described yesterday's meeting as the biggest ever in Uhuru Park since independence, challenged the President to swallow his "arrogance and impunity'' and change his decision to support Mr Kenyatta and "go back to democracy''.

Said the State Minister: "We are demanding democracy and justice in Kasarani. We want justice, not favours from anybody.''

Mr Kamotho described President Moi as a dictator and challenged him to tell Kenyans why he was talking with Opposition MPs only to turn back and accuse Rainbow of doing the same.

Said the former Kanu secretary-general: "I want to tell the President that he is the one who has ditched Kanu to sit with a tribal grouping of Kihika Kimani, Stephen Ndicho, Njenga Karume and Ngenye Kariuki. He has left patriotism for tribalists.''

Assistant Minister Moody Awori said the alliance challenged those aspiring for the presidency to show their credentials. "We have no problem with Uhuru Kenyatta. All we want him to do is to show the country his CV. We want him to tell the people whether he is capable of rejuvenating the nation and reviving the economy."

Mr Awori said he had joined the list of presidential aspirants because he believed he had a clean track record and was capable of leading Kenya. The Funyula MP dared anyone to throw them out of the party.

Mr Gumo claimed President Moi's recent campaign rally for Mr Kenyatta cost the taxpayer Sh2 billion for expenses including transportation of delegates and civil servants to Nakuru's Afraha Stadium.

Deputy Speaker Joab Omino said the group had no problem with Mr Kenyatta but was concerned that those backing him did not wish the country well.

Mr Khaniri and Mwingi South MP David Musila said the group was fighting to ensure Kenyans got visionary leaders who would enhance its rejuvenation. Said Mr Musila: "There is no provision in the Constitution which requires the President to pick his successor.''

Mr Musila said the alliance would negotiate with NAK and other groups on strategies to win the elections if Kasarani nominations were not fair.

Mr Orengo, the presidential candidate of one of the Social Democratic Party's factions, said he was ready to unite with other Opposition candidates to produce a single presidential candidate.

Prof Nyong'o, who represented NAK, said the umbrella body was ready to unite with the Rainbow Alliance members in fielding one presidential candidate to face Kanu in the General Election.

Starehe MP Maina Kamanda said MPs in Nairobi had united under the leadership of Langata MP Raila Odinga "and we will defeat all Moi supporters".