Musalia differs with Raila on fresh elections

Thursday February 22 2018

Nasa co-principal Musalia Mudavadi

Nasa co-principal Musalia Mudavadi addresses journalists at Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli's Ebukwala home, Kakamega County, on February 18, 2018, where they held a consultative meeting with Western region leaders. He wants the coalition to focus on 2022 elections. PHOTO | ISAAC WALE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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National Super Alliance co-principal Musalia Mudavadi has differed with opposition leader Raila Odinga over the latter’s call for a third election in August.

Mr Mudavadi, who was Mr Odinga’s presidential elections chief campaigner last year, argues that the coalition should instead focus on ensuring that the 2022 elections, in which a Nasa agreement bars Mr Odinga from contesting, are free and fair.

His dissention comes at a time of growing differences within the coalition — which include an ideological war among strategists over its resistance push, as well as the end-game of its people’s assembly movement, which suggests expanding the Executive, initiating judicial and police reforms, and strengthening devolution. 

In an interview with NTV on Wednesday, the former deputy prime minister said there is no legal and financial framework to enable the country conduct a fresh election, a third within a year in Kenya’s protracted poll crisis that has already featured an annulled poll and a repeat one boycotted by Nasa.

“There are those who may want to do what is perceived to be popular, but there are also those who have the courage to sometimes tell people that, that is not the right path,” Mr Mudavadi said.

Two weeks ago, Mr Odinga told the British Broadcasting Corporation that the coalition would push for a third election.

The interview came days after he took an ‘oath’ as the people’s president in a ceremony that was skipped by Mr Mudavadi and co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula.

Mr Mudavadi said his side of the coalition is not ready for another period of electioneering.

“I have asked our MPs whether they have made provisions for a fresh presidential election.

"They said no. Issues like this, in my view, need to be financed 90 per cent by the citizens themselves, and that can only be through the budget,” Mr Mudavadi said.

The suggested shift from August 2018 to 2022 comes loaded with fears among Nasa principals that Mr Odinga might want to run again, and have increased after the ‘oath’, with Mr Odinga’s hardliners telling him not to back any of his co-principals because they let him down at Uhuru Park.

Mr Mudavadi, who was on Sunday re-affirmed as the Luhya pointman in the 2022 race — the event was later criticised by Mr Wetang’ula as non-representative — said Nasa should instead push for transparency in the manner in which elections are conducted to ensure every vote counts before 2022.

On Thursday, Mr Odinga chaired the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) National Executive Committee, where the party resolved to rejuvenate itself.

He will Friday address the National Governing Council, the second highest organ of the body, for the first time since the August 8 elections and the subsequent ‘oathing’ ceremony.

“We want to fill the positions in our NEC and make sure that we revamp the party to make it more competitive,” ODM chairman John Mbadi told journalists after the meeting.

As ODM met, Mr Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Movement was revisiting his long-planned ‘swearing-in’ and, while the party insisted that it will not leave the coalition, it asked for a joint statement from Nasa to “tell the truth”.

Its leaders said Mr Musyoka had braved a lot of abuse since the Uhuru Park no-show, and that there is a need to tell Kenyans the truth about the ‘oath’.

Former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama said Mr Musyoka is still Mr Odinga’s deputy in the coalition and will take the oath “if need be”.

“Had Kalonzo taken the oath alone, he would have still been criticised,” Mr Muthama said, adding that those abusing the Wiper leader should understand that he was called many names during and after the 2007 election but still became vice-president.

In the NTV interview, Mr Mudavadi warned that Nasa risked losing sight of the ball.

“My appeal is singular and clear: Let us look forward. Let us start figuring out whether our strategy was wrong or right. And if it was wrong, let us correct it,” he said.