By Vitalis Kimutai
Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Eldoret North MP William Ruto met on Wednesday evening, completing the face of a budding tripartite alliance against Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
The other wing of the informal alliance is Deputy Prime Minister Mr Uhuru Kenyatta’s The National Alliance whose common denominator with Ruto’s United Republican Party and Mudavadi’s United Democratic Front is unyielding will to stop Raila.
Ruto and Mudavadi, who are, but just on paper, Raila’s deputies in Orange Democratic Movement, met with at least 40 MPs to strategise on how to frustrate the PM’s political ambitions as well as scuttling his list of nominees to EastAfrican Legislative Assembly. Given the acrimonious circumstances under which they left ODM, both have an axe to grind with Raila, and more so the fact that they asked for a share of ODM’s pie in EALA but got nothing since they are considered to have defected.
Ruto has been working with Uhuru under the umbrella of G7 Alliance, who like him, believes that Raila is behind their woes at the International Criminal Court. Incidentally, Uhuru and Mudavadi are Raila’s deputies in the Grand Coalition Cabinet ranking. This effectively means the tripartite assault on Raila is led by both his deputies in political party and Government as well.
The Ruto-Mudavadi meeting at the International Bible Society’s premises in Nairobi’s Lavington area is significant in the sense that it could be a pointer to Ruto’s preference for the Sabatia MP as a ‘neutral’ candidate to back should ICC case make it impossible for him to run in coming elections.
Though Uhuru and Mudavadi are in different parties, both share a rich history of working together dating back to the time in 2002 when the Sabatia MP rescinded his decision to ditch Kanu. After abandoning Raila then, he returned to Kanu and was swiftly appointed Vice President, and anointed Uhuru’s running mate in the elections that brought President Kibaki to power.
The meeting that lasted four hours, at the end of which the MPs were caught on camera dispersing, seemed to have borne fruit immediately.
On Thursday, when Parliament sat for a special morning session to debate party nominations to EALA, the Uhuru-Ruto-Mudavadi group of MPs succeeded in scuttling Raila’s proposal to the regional assembly.
The two had in the past two weeks warned that failure to consult their “new parties” — namely URP and UDF — would result in rejection of ODM’s nominees, a threat they seem to have executed with ease on Thursday. Mudavadi and Ruto allies marshaled votes to throw out Raila’s nominees — former Nyakach MP Peter Odoyo and Mr Samuel Ngeny a nominated councillor from Bomet. Odoyo managed a paltry 22 votes while Ngeny got 67. Ruto’s allies also ganged up with MPs allied to Mudavadi to overwhelmingly vote for Ms Nancy Lung’ahi Abisai who comes from Mudavadi’s backyard.
Sources that attended the meeting, which was reportedly chaired by Mudavadi and Ruto, told The Standard that the MPs resolved that the two sides would be working closely both in and out of Parliament to push their common agenda. “The meeting is an indication of things to come in the days ahead. This is the start of a long journey that we must accomplish to the benefit of Kenyans who are yearning for change in the way things are done at the political arena,” said Belgut MP Charles Keter, who is in Ruto’s camp.
Assistant Minister George Khaniri, who is a key backer of Mudavadi, and Keter lobbied their colleagues regarded as rebel ODM MPs to attend the meeting.
Keter told The Standard URP and UDF MPs had agreed to work together as a team both in and outside Parliament, another indicator of the partnership coalescing to face Raila.
Keter argued URP and UDF share same ideals and that both Mudavadi and Ruto had previously worked closely even in the Cabinet as they strove to deliver on their mandate.
Dujis MP Aden Duale said the two sides had agreed on how to engage in the political arena as the country prepared for the next General Election.
“We met here to deliberate on EALA list which will be subjected to a vote in Parliament tomorrow (Thursday) morning in Parliament,” Duale told the media in a brief statement after the Lavington meeting.
Duale explained the MPs had “agreed on a working voting pattern in Parliament” that would see their favoured candidates sail through.
Khaniri said that the group of MPs had no problem reaching a compromise on the deal because they had common political interests having fallen out with ODM leadership.
“It was not difficult for us to arrive at a consensus on how we should vote in Parliament as our interests are the same,” Khaniri said.
Shinyalu MP Justus Kizito sought to downplay the meeting saying it was only meant to discuss the EALA list.
Kizito however hastened to add that Uhuru, who recently unveiled his TNA party, and Ruto should rally behind Mudavadi in the race for the presidency. “Mudavadi is the only person with the ability to unite Kenyans and deliver the Presidency in the next General Election. Uhuru and Ruto should therefore back him for the top seat,” Kizito argued.
The MP also appealed to both Uhuru and Ruto to attend this weekend’s rally in Kakamega organised by Mudavadi.
Mudavadi and Ruto as well as the other MPs did not speak to the press, but the task of briefing the media was left to Duale and Khaniri.
Keter later told The Standard the Party of National Unity team, which in the current set up of the House includes Uhuru who remains a Kanu MP, had been roped into the deal.