Raila Odinga's big dilemma as Azimio implodes

"Baba got 490k more votes than 2017. But the promise was 40 per cent or 2.4 million votes from the mountain. Jubilee overpromised and underdelivered whilst also extracting serious concessions including a Mt Kenya running mate, Nairobi Governor and over 50 per cent of government," the Nairobi Senator tweeted in response to reports that Jubilee Mt Kenya MPs were looking at a life beyond Raila.

He would term remarks by Kioni and Wambugu that Mt Kenya had repaid its debt (Jaramogi Oginga Odinga's support for Jomo Kenyatta and Raila's support for Mwai Kibaki and his handshake with former President Uhuru Kenyatta) to the ODM leader "laughable".

In a counter-response, Wambugu blamed his loss of Nyeri Town parliamentary on his association with Raila.

"Someone tell Edwin Sifuna that Raila Odinga got more votes in Nyeri Town than I did. He should also remember that his supporting Raila enabled him to get elected, while my association with Raila ensured I did not get elected," Wambugu posted on Facebook.

Sifuna's remarks mirror those of other ODM MPs who have previously felt let down by Uhuru's party. Embakasi East MP Babu Owino has been the most vocal, describing Jubilee's support for Raila as "a long con".

The exchange came within 48 hours after Parliament elected Kenya's representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala), where Kioni had unsuccessfully vied to fill one of Azimio's four slots.

Raila's ODM got two positions (Winnie Odinga and Suleiman Shabhal), with Kalonzo Musyoka's Wiper Democratic Movement-Kenya and Uhuru's Jubilee earning one each - Kennedy Kalonzo and former Kieni lawmaker Kanini Kega, respectively.

The most recent exchange also follows another a week ago, which resulted from the controversial distribution of slots in the Parliamentary Service Commission.

The appointments were met with allegations of betrayal by Jubilee MPs who missed out on the three positions reserved for Azimio. Jubilee MPs threatened to quit the formation.

Kioni told the Sunday Standard that Jubilee MPs feel slighted within Azimio.

"Jubilee is the second-largest party within Azimio but for reasons known to ODM and Wiper, they have decided to treat us like outsiders," the Jubilee secretary-general said.

The former Ndaragwa MP lamented over the Parliamentary Service Commission slot that he said had been "taken away" from Sirisia MP John Waluke, saying they had voiced their concerns with other partners.

"Such exchanges are not healthy for the coalition," said university don Gitile Naituli. "But it is also important to note that Azimio never existed. Jubilee was never in Azimio, it was forced into the coalition by Uhuru."

Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi yesterday downplayed any divisions in the coalition.

"Being a mass movement, you must expect differences in opinion, which is very healthy," the Ugunja MP said. "The key thing is to ensure that when these differences emerge, they are resolved within the party structures."

On Friday, Raila, Kalonzo and Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua met their four Eala representatives, posing for photos in a show of unity. But their smiles did little to mask the simmering differences in the coalition.

President William Ruto has not concealed his intention to weaken the coalition, winning over erstwhile rivals. His deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, seems keen to forge a united Mt Kenya, a plan that could see Jubilee lawmakers cross the floor and rally behind his cause to establish himself as the region's kingpin.

"Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua is our current leader in Mt Kenya... He is the leader holding the highest position in the region," Wambugu said.

"Every member is entitled to an opinion," Kioni said. "Jubilee must work harder than its partners to restructure the party and make it acceptable to our would-be voters," he said. "But we don't seem to be getting any help from our partners."

Prof Naituli argued that Gachagua's move could spell doom for the opposition coalition. "Jubilee is trying to find its footing and the politicians will go wherever they think they can benefit. They don't see a future in Raila, Kalonzo or Karua," Prof Naituli added.