By GEOFFREY MOSOKU and VITALIS KIMUTAI
Deputy Prime Ministers Uhuru Kenyatta’s and Musalia Mudavadi’s parties disagreed over how to pick the Jubilee Alliance candidate from between them but eventually Mudavadi lost the push for consensus.
Mudavadi wanted the process to be negotiated away from the National Delegates Conference, but he will now have to contend with the fact that the showdown over 5,000 delegates drawn from the three leading partner parties will now have to make the decision tomorrow at Kasarani.
So serious were the disagreements that at one point it appeared as if the planned National Delegates Conference would not take off at all. However, as the day ended, it was back on the Jubilee diary, albeit with a change of date from today to tomorrow, a date that is also in contention.
However, even this date for joint National Delegates Conference is unclear because United Republican Party spokesman Aden Dualle dismissed it saying it would meet either on Wednesday or Thursday to pick the flag-bearer.
‘”As we speak, a technical committee is still smoothening the rough edges on the methodology to be employed in picking the Jubilee Alliance flag bearer. The Tuesday date which had earlier been picked is not cast on stone and we are likely to hold the contest on Thursday or Friday,” Dualle, who is a member of the joint technical committee said.
“We are asking our delegates to stay put until a proper communication has been issued by URP detailing when and where they are going to assemble and the mode of transportation to the venue,” he said.
However, Uhuru’s The National Alliance went ahead and publicised the tomorrow’s meeting with confirmation Uhuru’s communication team. Uhuru and Mudavadi were locked in a meeting most of the day Sunday, alongside URP leader William Ruto, who is the other key pillar of the Jubilee Alliance. The meeting, according to insiders, was at Uhuru’s Nairobi home.
The bone of contention between UDF and TNA is on whether to get the candidate through a consensus process, something which Mudavadi supports, or faceoff at Kasarani, which Uhuru group are for.
Mudavadi’s argument was that the nominations could set off bad blood and reinforce suspicions in the alliance, but by last evening having lost the fight, discussions had switched over to actual rules of nomination to be adopted.
Jubilee’s technical team also met in Lavington to finalise the nomination rules and procedures and were last evening briefing the three leaders. Signs that the matter at hand was being taken seriously by the leaders was discernible from the fact that the alliance cancelled their planned rally in Murang’a Sunday to attend to the more urgent matter of the nominations.
TNA insists the nominations take place tomorrow at Kasarani while Mudavadi’s United Democratic Front still hopes consensus on who will be the candidate could still be struck at this late hour, making the joint National Delegates Conference unnecessary.
But even though UDF delegates spoken to reveal they were on the way to Nairobi for the conference, they still have the perception that the NDC would merely endorse the consensus candidate the three leaders will decide on. This will basically be between Uhuru and Mudavadi, because Ruto is already slated for running mate position.
Fresh signs of tensions in Jubilee began to show on Saturday night after the coalition postponed a rally they were supposed to hold in Murang’a indefinitely. The jubilee team had lined up three rallies; one, which was successfully held on Saturday in Kakamega, the cancelled one in Murang’a Sunday and another to be held in Kitui today.
It was after these rallies that the alliance was expected to announce the flag-bearer. Sources indicated the Murang’a rally was called off to give room for more consultation and probably agreement on the best procedure for nominating the presidential candidate so as to forestall a break-up.
By last evening, jubilee had not come out clearly to explain the process of nominating their candidate with TNA insisting it will be through secret ballot at Kasarani while UDF insisted the three principals would determine the criteria.
The technical team meeting in Lavington included URP spokesman Aden Dualle and Kipchumba Murkomen who is also from Ruto’s party, while UDF was represented by Dan Ameyo and Osman Hassan who is the party chairman. Johnson Sakaja and Jasper Mbiuki represented TNA.
Housing minister Soita Shitanda, who is on Mudavadi’s side confirmed a flurry of meetings had taken place since Saturday and the whole of Sunday to agree in principle on some issues. “All that may change depending on what the three principals agree. The meetings are currently going on,” Shitanda said when asked whether the NDC to nominate the team’s flag bearer was still on.
The minister revealed it was only the leaders who would come out and announce the criteria of nominating the joint candidate.
However, TNA accused Mudavadi of seeking the jubilee ticket through the boardroom instead of a delegates’ convention. MPs allied to Uhuru have vowed to oppose any attempt to arrive at candidate through consensus. “We want our candidate to be elected in an open and transparent process through secret ballot so that he can be owned by three parties,” Nithi MP Kareke Mbiuki declared.
Mbiuki a close ally of Uhuru insisted TNA and URP delegates would converge at Kasarani this morning to elect their flag bearer with or without Mudavadi. He said this before the change in date was communicated setting the delegates meeting for Tuesday (tomorrow).
“All delegates should be seated by 8am and there is only one agenda of nominating the presidential candidate. We expect to finish the exercise by 5pm,” said TNA Director of Communications Machel Waikenda.
“The meet-the-people tour was called off in Murang’a to help the TNA, UDF and URP leaderships effectively prepare for the nominations which will lead to picking of the presidential candidate scheduled for Tuesday,” said Cabinet Minister Jamleck Kamau.
Nakuru County UDF co-ordinator Pastor Mike Brawan admitted there was a stalemate on the mode of choosing their presidential candidate but was optimistic it would be resolved. He said Nakuru’s 15 UDF delegates would travel to Nairobi for the exercise.
TNA’s fears were compounded by an article authored in a local newspaper Sunday by Mudavadi’s confidant, former Trade Minister Mukhisa Kituyi, calling for the exercise to be conducted through consensus instead of the NDC.
UDF had indicated it was not aware of any delegates’ convention today with Dualle saying the joint NDC will be held between tomorrow and Thursday.
Dualle and Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo confirmed the Jubilee Alliance would be in Kitui today for a joint rally before the nomination exercise. The Kitui rally will be used to welcome Ngilu officially into the alliance.
“We shall have a rally at Kitui Municipal Stadium to prove that Ukambani is Jubilee’’, Kiema added.