Leaders now plot western alliance

By Stephen Makabila

An attempt to conjure-up a western Kenya political Alliance ahead of the March 4 General Election is in the works, The Standard has established.

The alliance if successfully moulded, could bring together Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM, Eldoret North MP William Ruto’s URP, and Trade Minister Moses Wetangula’s Ford-Kenya.

The push for the alliance has been buoyed by recent talks between Raila and Ruto, and which some political forces in Western Province now want Ford-Kenya to be enjoined.

In the 2007 General Election, the bedrock support for the PM’s presidential bid was his own Nyanza turf, the neighbouring Western and Rift Valley provinces.

After the Raila-Ruto talks on a possible alliance a week ago, the PM embarked on tour of Western province from Thursday with 10 rallies and roadside addresses lined-up, where Forestry and Wildlife Minister Noah Wekesa declared in one of the functions in Webuye that Ford-Kenya would work with ODM.

“Ford-Kenya and ODM are going to work together,” Dr Wekesa, the Kwanza Ford-Kenya MP said.

Recent talks

Elders from Nyanza, Western and Rift Valley are now set to hold a major meeting in Kakamega on November 1, in what is being referred to as a forum of leaders from areas covered by the Lake Basin Development Authority.

“We support recent talks between Raila and Ruto as well as between elders from the Luo and Kalenjin community. We want leaders from the Western Kenya region to work as a team,” said Patrick Wangamati, the Chairman of the Luhya Council of Elders who doubles as a member of the Ford-Kenya Executive Committee (NEC).

Wangamati who is a close Wetangula ally confirmed that plans for the Kakamega meeting were on, and that it would bring elders from the Luhya, Luo and Kalenjin communities together.

“The meeting will be an expanded one after the Luo and Kalenjin councils met in Eldoret to explore unity initiatives,” added Wangamati.

At the Eldoret meeting, the Kalenjin elders were led by Mr Jackson Kibor and Mr Said Keittany while the Luo Council of Elders Chairman also known as Ker, Willis Otondi led the Luo elders.

In Western province, Wetangula, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi of UDF, Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa of New Ford-Kenya and Federal Party’s Cyrus Jirongo are the four presidential aspirants from the region.

Recently, Raila hinted while on a campaign trail in Turkana County that ODM would work with Ford-Kenya, a revelation that was made before party chairman and Labour minister John Munyes.

Dr Chris Wamalwa, another Wetangula ally, told The Standard the two parties have been having structured talks on how to work together.

Threaten support

On his part, Ruto who is believed to have met Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta for talks on a possible coalition, has already briefed Rift Valley MPs on his earlier meeting with Raila.

It is understood Ruto was given a free hand by the MPs who attended the meeting at his Karen home, to enter into alliances and move across the country to seek support for URP.

And although he later met Uhuru for talks after his meeting with Raila, there are those who feel his plans to enter a coalition with the PM would prevail.

Within ODM, a section of leaders among them Roads Minister Franklin Bett have called for genuine talks and sincerity to make the Raila-Ruto unity bid hold.

“The move is wise and commendable and it’s a sign of maturity because in politics, there are no permanent enemies or friends. They should seal a deal that will see them in State House in 2013,” said Bett. But the new push for a larger Western-Kenya Alliance comes in the wake of unity bid for Western Province presidential aspirants, brokered by Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli.

Last weekend, Mudavadi, Wetangula and Jirongo attended a meeting at Masai Mara that was boycotted by Wamalwa, who later dismissed the unity bid as ‘destined for failure’.

However, there are those who feel the PM’s move to campaign in Western was out of fear created by the Central Organisation of Trade Unions Secretary General Francis Atwoli unity bid.

MPs allied to Mudavadi in the region claim the PM was prompted to tour the region over fears that the bid set off by Atwoli to get the Luhya aspirants to compromise on one candidate, would threaten the support he still enjoys in the region.

“Raila has been comfortable when the region was producing several presidential candidates because he believed that he would cash in on the division to get support,” said Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale, who backs Mudavadi.