ODM leaders yesterday stepped up threats to isolate partner parties in NASA should they refuse to back the agreement between their party leader and President Uhuru Kenyatta.
A day after the four NASA co-principals met and resolved to refer the agreement to their respective party organs, the ODM Parliamentary Group gave full backing to the deal and told Wiper, ANC, and Ford Kenya to follow suit or part ways.
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who is the deputy party leader, warned the other parties ODM would leave the coalition if they did not back Raila Odinga, .
“As far as ODM is concerned, Uhuru and Raila were the major presidential candidates last year. They met as individuals. This has nothing to do with NASA,” Mr Oparanya said shortly after meeting Raila and Jimi Wanjigi at Serena Hotel.
He continued: “The three other NASA leaders have their own parties. They can decide whether or not to back the deal. If they bolt, it will have no impact on the current deal.”
The future of NASA and its unity will be tested in the coming days when affiliate parties hold crucial meetings to deliberate on last week’s truce between Uhuru and Raila.
ANC, Wiper, and Ford Kenya have expressed reservations on the outcome of the talks between Uhuru and Raila even as ODM backed the initiative.
Following a meeting on Monday in Athi River, the four party leaders agreed to subject the proposal to their respective party organs for Raila to be given the nod to dialogue with Uhuru.
Consequently, Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper and Musalia Mudavadi’s ANC have scheduled national executive council (NEC) meetings on Tuesday next week. Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya, which was slated to hold its NEC tomorrow, has pushed it back to Tuesday.
There are indications that Kalonzo, Mudavadi, and Wetang’ula are prepared to chart their own course without ODM if their parties do not endorse the deal.
Yesterday, the three NASA leaders held a separate meeting in Karen as Raila met his ODM troops at Orange House to brief them on what transpired in Athi River on Monday and Friday’s event at Harambee House.
ANC chairman Kevin Lunani said next Tuesday’s meeting had been planned earlier, adding that it would not incorporate the Raila issue.
Kalonzo had scheduled to hold a meeting with Kamba community leaders in Machakos on Friday but has pushed it back and instead will be in Kitui to campaign for the party’s candidate, Edith Nyenze, for the March 26 Kitui West by-election.
On Sunday, leaders from the three parties met at Ole Sereni Hotel in Nairobi, where they resolved to forge forward without ODM.
The leaders discussed the issuing a joint communique to ‘allow Raila and ODM’ to proceed with their negotiations with Jubilee which was to be issued on Monday, but the intention was scuttled when Raila attended the meeting at Stoni Athi.
“We don’t want to pretend that by two people shaking hands, we have quelled tension in the country. As a party, we will look into how to solve these issues, including the need to compensate those who lost their loved ones in the electoral violence,” Lunani said.
Asked if the three parties were ready to chart their way should ODM abandon them, Lunani responded: “There is a mistake that Kenyans are making. People are imagining that if you are not with Raila, you are with Uhuru. This is a pure lie. There is a silent majority that sees others as alternative leadership.”
The ANC chairman scoffed at ODM’s threat to quit, saying that would not break the coalition.
“There is an agreement that states that NASA stands unless three parties withdraw. So if ODM quits, the three will still remain in NASA and build a formidable coalition," he said.
Borabu MP Ben Momanyi (Wiper) said: “We don’t mind the move but the way it was done was not proper. One person cannot unilaterally decide on behalf of others. NASA will be strong with or without ODM,” he said.
Makueni MP Dan Maanzo (Wiper) accused his ODM colleagues of undermining other partners.
“ODM is behaving as if it holds a bigger stake in NASA. We are all equals. But we need to know if they are doing this on behalf of Raila so that we can react,” he said.
At the Orange party headquarters, the lawmakers told the party leader not to be distracted from the pursuit of unity, which has been elusive since the last polls.
“We encouraged the party leader to stay focused on the big picture and the struggle for a better, just, inclusive, and fair Kenya and refuse to be distracted by those positioning themselves for 2022,” said National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohamed in a statement.
Sources told The Standard that Raila narrated his bumpy political journey and assured them that ‘Canaan’ was still real if they supported President Uhuru’s administration.
The source said Raila told the legislators to work closely with Jubilee both in Parliament and outside so that unity and harmony prevailed.
“He explained to us the reasons we should work closely with Jubilee in the House. We did not have enough time but his explanation was on point. He assured us that he was candid with the other NASA co-principals,” said the source.
Several sources said Raila had the leaders that he had agreed in principle with Uhuru that victims of the poll violence would be compensated and that they would lead a unity crusade across the country.
According to the source, the members agreed to rationalise parliamentary committee memberships to include those without positions in the next two weeks.