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’.