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How Nasa leaders broke deadlock on flag-bearer choice

Friday April 28 2017

Nasa leaders.  Raila Odinga was announced the flag-bearer

Nasa leaders from left: Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetang'ula, Isaac Ruto, Musalia Mudavadi and Raila Odinga at Uhuru Park on April 27, 2017. Mr Odinga is the flag-bearer and his running mate is Kalonzo Musyoka. PHOTO | RAPHAEL NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

PETER LEFTIE
By PETER LEFTIE
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DENNIS ODUNGA
By DENNIS ODUNGA
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The main Opposition alliance yesterday sought to project a picture of unity and collegiate leadership as Mr Raila Odinga and Mr Kalonzo Musyoka were unveiled as the presidential election flag-bearers.

The duo will be taking on the Jubilee pair of President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto for the second time after the 2013 defeat.

In his acceptance speech before a large crowd at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park, Mr Odinga made a point of affirming he will serve just one term if elected.

SUITABLE COMBINATION
He told the National Super Alliance (Nasa) rally that he would only be a transitional president and would hand over power at the end of the term.

That appeared to be one of the key points of the lengthy negotiations that sought to find a place for all five members of the Nasa leadership.

It has now emerged that it was Mr Odinga’s offer on Wednesday morning not to seek a second term that broke the deadlock on who would be the National Super Alliance flag-bearer.

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The Nation learnt from sources close to the five Nasa co-principals that leaders were stuck with three options on the table on which pairing was best suited to face Jubilee in the August elections.

TRANSITION PRESIDENT
At the time, Mr Odinga, Amani National Congress’s Musalia Mudavadi and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka were all in for the ticket.

Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula had thrown in the towel in support of Mr Odinga while Chama Cha Mashinani’s Isaac Ruto was neutral.

“The deal breaker was when Raila offered to serve as a transition President for one term and not to run again. Issues of age also came in and the two (Kalonzo and Mudavadi) were finally broken,” sources said.

Even as they agreed, Mr Mudavadi and Mr Musyoka insisted that the deal must be “put in writing” and the entire agreement made public to avoid past cases of back-tracking.

“That is why as the principals were at Uhuru Park, the legal instruments were being deposited with the Registrar of Political Parties. No one can go back on the agreement,” the source said.

DEBATED PAIRING
The options on the table at the time were Mr Musyoka as the president with Mr Mudavadi as the running mate; the second had Mr Mudavadi as the flag-bearer with Mr Musyoka as his deputy; while the third option was Mr Odinga as the torch-bearer with the Wiper leader as the running mate.

It was clear from speeches at Uhuru Park that premium was given to agreements that cannot easily be trashed as has been witnessed with previous coalition and power-sharing agreements.

Mr Odinga said they had all signed the legal documents to back up their coalition agreement and there would be no room for backtracking.

However, questions still remained on the value of agreements that can only be implemented within the prevailing Constitution where Executive authority is still the preserve of the president.

JOURNEY TO CANAAN
Already, some Jubilee rivals have trashed Nasa’s proposal to create the post of Premier and Deputy Premier Cabinet Secretaries as an unconstitutional device to bring back the discarded office of Prime Minister.

Speaking in Kiswahili at exactly 4.27 pm, Mr Odinga, the ODM leader, chose to go biblical, describing himself as the Joshua who would lead Kenyans from Egypt to Canaan — the promised land.

Mimi nitakuwa Joshua wa kuwaongoza wa Kenya kuvuka River Jordan hadi Canaan (I will be Joshua who will lead Kenyans to cross River Jordan to Canaan),” he said.

Tukishafika Canaan, kazi yangu itakuwa imekwisha (Once in Canaan, I will have accomplished my task),” he went on.

DIVISION OF LABOUR
In the Nasa line-up, Mr Musyoka will be Mr Odinga’s running mate and designated Deputy President.

Mr Mudavadi will take up the post of Premier Cabinet Secretary in charge of the overall coordination of government and will also be in charge of the Internal security docket.

Under the office of the Premier Cabinet Secretary will be two deputy premier Cabinet Secretaries, reserved for Mr Wetang’ula in charge of economic sector coordination ministries; while Chama Cha Mashinani leader Isaac Ruto is deputy premier Cabinet Secretary responsible for ministries in charge of governance and devolution.

In a well-choreographed event designed to manage expectations from their respective backyards, the five principals took turns to stress the need for the opposition to go to the August 8 election as a united front.

UNITED FRONT
Mr Wetang’ula set the ball rolling when he stressed that whoever is picked as the opposition flag-bearer would just be the first among equals.

“This team is a team. The person we are going to pick as our flag-bearer is the first among equals. He is the captain of a team with many superstars,” he said before inviting Mr Ruto to address the gathering.

The Bomet governor took time to list the many ills that he said had been caused by the Jubilee administration and caused laughter when he apologised to the gathering for having voted for the Jubilee government in the last election.

Then came Mr Mudavadi, the man who had been tasked with unveiling the lineup and the one credited with coming up with the Nasa acronym early this year.

Waving a white A-4 size envelope, the ANC leader lit up the crowd when he stated that it contained the eagerly awaited line-up.

Hii bahasha ambayo nimeshika ni bahasha ambayo imebeba yote. Hii bahasha siyo bahasha ya Ocampo bali ni bahasha ya Nasa (This envelope I’m carrying is not the Ocampo envelope, it is a Nasa envelope),” he said to deafening cheers.

HONOUR ACCORD
He first read a prepared speech explaining the reasoning behind the formation of the opposition coalition and the need for personal sacrifices to realise the Nasa dream.

“When I formed Nasa, I never had ‘Me’ in mind. I had ‘We’ in mind. I had ‘You’ in mind. I had ‘Us’ in mind. And finally I had Kenya in mind,” he said.

Under the agreement, all decisions will be made through consultation and concurrence of partner parties.

Mr Musyoka stressed the need for all Nasa affiliate parties to honour the agreement.

He revisited past Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs), which had been broken due to greed and dishonesty.

PAST AGREEMENT

He singled out the dishonoured 2002 MoU between then LDP and National Alliance Party of Kenya, which formed the National Rainbow Coalition under President Kibaki.

“What killed the Summit was dishonesty from day one. I and my brother Raila sent Uncle Moody [Awori] to the President to convene the Summit.

"I remember [State House Comptroller] Matere Keriri telling Raila that ‘if I were you, I would concentrate on my ministerial duties because there is no more Summit,"' he recounted.

Additional reporting by Bernard Namunane