By Geoffrey Mosoku and Moses Njagih
Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka signed a pre-election pact but left open the question of who will be the candidate and running mate.
But as Kalonzo switched to Raila’s side, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta’s The National Alliance and Eldoret North MP William Ruto’s United Republican Party, responded by bringing on board United Democratic Party candidate Musalia Mudavadi.
After a protracted battle, a deal was struck that Uhuru and Mudavadi would fight it out for the coalition’s presidential nomination ticket, with the loser guaranteed to take up the Majority Leader’s position. In the deal, Ruto’s retained his running mate position. The Uhuru-Ruto deal was unveiled in Nakuru on Sunday and signed in Nairobi’s Jevanjee Gardens the next day.
Interestingly, the battle lines appeared to echo those of 2002, where Uhuru was a Kanu candidate, Mudavadi his running mate and Ruto the influential minister and director of elections.
On the other side was Raila backing President Kibaki alongside Kalonzo and Water minister Charity Ngilu who turned back to Odinga’s political fold Tuesday.
The URP-TNA-UDF deposited their new deal with the national electoral body after 7pm, as the picture of a two-horse race just as it were in 2007 between Kibaki-Raila took shape, albeit with some other candidates on the sides. They include Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa and Kenya National Congress candidate Peter Kenneth who also signed separate coalition deals Tuesday.
Also in the race is Narc-Kenya’s Martha Karua who is on her own.
Though at KICC, Raila’s side did not specify who will be the candidate and running mate sources reveal it is considered obvious that the PM would be the flag-bearer and the VP the Deputy President.
But this decision, it was decided, has to wait for ratification by the relevant party organs next week. “If I was a person who believes in holding a grudge, I would not be here today with my brother Raila,” said the VP. This statement signified the sudden change in the frosty relations both have had since 2002 when Raila declared President Kibaki Tosha (fit to lead) against Kalonzo’s expectation and in 2007 when they fought over the first Orange party until Odinga and his team left for a new one bearing almost a similar one.
The master of ceremonies at Tuesday’s historic reunion between the two former fierce rivals, Starehe MP Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, threw hints by constant reference to Raila as ‘The President in waiting’.
With the Raila-Kalonzo pairing up alongside Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetangula and Ngilu, was born Kenya’s newest and significant coalition after that of Uhuru and Ruto, which Mudavadi joined Tuesday.
The Raila-Kalonzo axis signed off the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) on the frontal steps of the KICC witnessed by a swathe of humanity that spontaneously turned up on hearing a deal had been struck between their favourite leaders.
Apparently stung by the latest development, Uhuru and Ruto went full blast for Mudavadi and at one point after their negotiations stretching from Monday night, word spread that a stalemate had been reached because Mudavadi insisted Kenyatta steps down for him to be the candidate.
So serious was the speculation that Mudavadi was headed to the Uhuru-Ruto camp, as a strategy to counter Raila-Kalonzo pact, that the TNA and URP leaders secured an appointment with the Registrar of Political parties to withdraw their pact deposited on Monday.
Sources within the party revealed this was meant to allow them to amend it to accommodate Mudavadi, who had curiously called off his signing ceremony with Kenneth.
More confusion spread across the political arena when in the evening Uhuru and Ruto, accompanied by Mvita MP Najib Balala and Environment minister Chirau Mwakwere, dashed to Laico Regency Hotel ostensibly to showcase their big catches of the day: ODM chairman Henry Kosgey and Mudavadi himself. However, despite their discussions, the eminent ODM member was said to have declined to cross over. However at nightfall Mudavadi turned up at Laico with Uhuru and Ruto to announce their conditional deal.