By GEOFFREY MOSOKU and MWANIKI MUNUHE
The troubled union between Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi’s UDF party and Jubilee coalition came to a dramatic end Friday after alliance leaders announced they had dropped him.
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto were the first to call a press conference to say they were done with the Sabatia MP, after a difficult two weeks of intrigue and jostling for the coalition’s ticket.
But Mudavadi’s team claimed that the action by the two was pre-emptive since Mudavadi had intended to declare at a rally in Nyeri that he had quit the alliance.
However in Nyeri, the Sabatia MP sought to play down the fallout, saying it was just but a temporary setback and left open the possibility of a reunion.
“We agreed by mutual consent that we are going different ways but who knows maybe after two to three weeks we can be together again,” Mudavadi told the rally.
“Let us wait and see as time is an ultimate healer. Things can be different in the days to come,” he added.
Friday’s events were as dramatic as they were when, on the eve of the coalition registration deadline on December 4, Mudavadi joined the Jubilee coalition after a whirlwind of meetings.
Last-ditch efforts to reconcile the warring parties, including a meeting held on Thursday night at a private apartment in Nairobi’s Westlands where the three had lengthy talks, failed to save the marriage.
Another meeting was reportedly scheduled for Friday, but Mudavadi insisted on going for the Nyeri rally, which Uhuru’s The National Alliance were uncomfortable with.
At the centre of the dispute was a secret deal that Uhuru signed committing to withdraw his presidential candidature for Mudavadi, but which was not lodged with the Registrar of Political Parties.
Uhuru’s camp alleged interference by a top civil servant and two operatives from the Office of the President said to have put pressure on Uhuru to step down for Mudavadi.
The agreement between the three parties, URP, TNA and UDF, that was registered made reference to joint presidential nominations between TNA and UDF candidates.
In subsequent weeks, Uhuru and Ruto insisted on joint primaries, and even planned for a joint National Delegates Conference to do so.
The apportioning of delegates apparently would have had Mudavadi’s UDF outnumbered.
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Ruto was also reportedly not keen to market yet another presidential candidate in the Rift valley after struggling to sell Uhuru’s candidature.
Prior to the parting of ways, the Registrar of Political Parties Lucy Ndung’u had asked TNA and UDF to clarify on the conflicting accounts of their coalition agreement as the wrangling intensified. Ndung’u told The Standard On Saturday that she had sought a response from TNA over a letter written by UDF to the effect that its governing body had not ratified the coalition agreement.
“I was away and I can confirm I found the UDF letter in my office, and I have asked them (TNA) to respond to the allegations,” she said.
TNA’s National Oversight Board also reportedly wrote to the Registrar arguing that the coalition deal with UDF was irregular.
Friday, Ruto and Uhuru had sought to portray the parting of ways as amicable citing “mutual consent”.
Said Ruto: “We have had intense consultations from Friday (Thursday) which extended to this morning and we have resolved by mutual consent to let our partner UDF proceed with their campaigns and us (TNA and URP) proceed with our programmes.”
“Given our inability to agree on the way forward, we have agreed as gentlemen not to distract our plans as we disengage and allow our brothers in UDF to continue on their own,” added Uhuru.
In Nyeri, Mudavadi said he was yet to come to terms with Uhuru’s decision to go against a binding agreement to step down in his favour.
“As leaders we should learn to stand by what we say. It is them (Uhuru and Ruto) who came to my house seeking a political pact but I am surprised that they have gone against the very agreement we signed in the presence of our lawyers.
“If as a leader you can renege on a promise which is well documented, what about the pledges you make to Kenyans as you seek their vote?” posed Mudavadi.
And in Nairobi, Mudavadi’s spokesman Kibisu Kabatesi reacted angrily to the announcement, dismissing the announcement on Mudavadi as “impolite and an abuse of the collective intelligence”.
Mudavadi, he claimed, had informed them of his decision to sever ties on serious grounds of “dishonour and lack of integrity and commitment.”
Mudavadi said he decided to quit since he could no longer work with leaders who could not honour simple commitments but chose to live in “deceit and deception”.
Uhuru and Ruto had made the communication at the URP presidential campaign secretariat where Ruto received assistant ministers Mr Mohamed Mohamed (Energy) and Mr Mohamed Gabow (Special Programmes) who quit ODM for URP.
Former Mandera Central MP Billow Kerrow and a host of other aspirants, mainly drawn from Mandera County, joined them.