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Ngilu hints at joining presidential race

By By STEPHEN MAKABILA and PAUL MUTUA | Jul 1st 2012 | 3 min read


By STEPHEN MAKABILA and PAUL MUTUA                     

Narc party leader and Water Minister, Charity Kaluki Ngilu, has hinted she could be in the presidential race after keeping political allies and foes guessing for months.

The Kitui Central MP, best known for her 1997 presidential bid, the first serious move by a female candidate, and her role in the Narc coalition in 2002 when she was christened “Mama Rainbow,”  had before this latest hint been  seemingly playing her cards close to her chest.

Despite being a party leader, Ms Ngilu has not hit the campaign trail for her second presidential bid, and had also not declared interest for any other elective post.

Speaking when Narc presented its compliance papers to the Registrar of Political Parties in April, Ngilu  had indicated  her party will field candidates for all elective positions and would select its presidential candidate at a National Delegates Conference (NDC).

The minister was , however, non-committal then on whether she would seek the party’s endorsement for the presidential ticket come the NDC, although she had last year equally hinted she could be on the presidential ballot.

And on Friday, Ngilu said, ““When the party’s NDC meets to pick its presidential candidate and says that I am the one, then I will take up the call because I know I am fit for the position.”

Ngilu was speaking during the memorial service of her late husband Engineer Michael Mwendwa Ngilu at their Ithookwe village home, Tungutu sub-location, Kitui Central constituency. Her husband died in July 2006 in South Africa.

Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo, former Cabinet minister Francis Nyenze, former Makadara MP Reuben Ndolo and several Ukambani civic leaders were present .

 “This country still yearns for real leadership and reformers. Previous regimes must give way for reformers to take this country forward,” the Kitui Central MP said.

Before Ngilu spoke, Kiema had led leaders in urging Ngilu to go for the presidency to end the anxiety among her supporters.

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Narc chief executive Fidelis Nguli had earlier told The Standard On Sunday Kenyans should expect big news from the minister in the next one month.

“The NDC is what we are working on now. We are likely to have the meeting in the next one month. Let our supporters hold their horses,” added Nguli.

Nguli had without divulging details on status of the party’s manifesto, indicated that the blue-print was ready. In recent months, Ngilu has been linked to various key political players in the Kibaki succession matrix, among them Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, the late Internal Security Minister George Saitoti and even speculations that she could become Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s presidential running mate to help tap the rich women vote and lower Eastern support.

She has, however, dismissed links with Mudavadi and described her relationship with ODM leader Raila Odinga as “cordial” and said her party would continue working with like-minded leaders.

“Narc started working with ODM in 2007 as part of the Grand Coalition Government. My political relationship with the PM has been cordial and we will continue working with all like-minded leaders. It is not the leadership that makes a party but the structures put in place,” she said at the height of speculation that Mudavadi was to join Narc. The minister’s presidential hint comes as  her rival in Ukambani politics, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, seems to be gaining ground as some MPs who had parted ways with him seek to join the Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM).

A case in point is Yatta MP, Charles Kilonzo, one of Kalonzo’s harshest critics who even held a one-man press conference to disown the rebranded WDM outfit.

Mr Kilonzo is back trying to wrest the leadership of the party from Nairobi businessman, Francis Mwangangi, who was elected Yatta Branch chairman. 

Other perceived anti-Kalonzo MPs, including Youth Affairs Assistant minister Wavinya Ndeti, Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo, Kitui West MP Charles Nyamai, and Kilome MP Harun Mwau have either reconciled with the VP or gone quiet.

If Ngilu misses on the presidential ballot she could remain with the options of defending her parliamentary seat, contest the Kitui Senator position or Kitui County Governorship.

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