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Fight for soul of Azimio begins as Kalonzo charts political future

Politics
 Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka. [Samson Wire, Standard]

The fight for the control of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya has intensified with Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka positioning himself to take over the outfit.

Kalonzo has sent signals that it is now his time.

But the Wiper leader cannot inherit the coalition party whose de-facto leader, ODM boss Raila Odinga, enjoys the support of former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Kalonzo has been laying strategies on how to take Raila's political constituency as he plans to vie for the presidency in 2027.

He contested in 2007 and emerged third behind Kibaki and Raila.

Yesterday, Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua said that Azimio was intact and the Wiper leader is best placed to be the presidential candidate in 2027 since he had selflessly rallied behind Raila and Uhuru.

"Kalonzo Musyoka is the best presidential candidate for the Azimio coalition in 2027 since he has the necessary experience and deserves the support of former President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga whom he has been loyal to," said Wambua.

The senator maintained that there was no crisis in Azimio and Wiper would appreciate Raila and Uhuru being active in politics and remaining at the helm of the coalition for as long as they wish.

Premature succession debate

Wambua said Kalonzo's candidature in 2027 would be a political game changer and called for sober reflection on the matter by all coalition leaders.

"Raila has not said that he would be on the ballot in 2027, I am very sure that he is going to support Kalonzo for president, we should bear in mind that even President Ruto got the support of other leaders to get elected, our leader also needs support," he said.

But Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni said the succession debate was premature.

"It is difficult to surrender to another party. You earn leadership of a coalition and you need the patience to do this. It is not yet time for anybody to succeed Azimio leader Raila Odinga," Kioni said.

He said that Azimio's main preoccupation right now was to keep the government in check by ensuring that the cost of electricity was lowered, food prices were affordable, Inua Jamii cash transfer is reinstated and there was clarity about the Competency-Based Curriculum.

While acknowledging that Azimio was made up of different political parties driven by their own ideologies, Kioni said that Azimio leaders would keep on meeting and talking to iron out any differences.

Grand statement

On calls for former President Kenyatta to relinquish his leadership position in Azimio and Jubilee, Kioni said this was disrespectful to a leader who had led the country for ten years.

"This should not be a big issue. If he decides to vacate his position he will do it and communicate to us. His decision will be respected but we cannot start demanding that he relinquishes his position," Kioni said.

ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna said that an audit of the performance of each constituent party in Azimio Coalition Party during the August General election needs to be carried out.

"We would like to know if each of the constituents party in Azimio Coalition played their role effectively during the August General Election, that is why we want an audit done," said Sifuna.

Meanwhile, former Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana said that Kalonzo intends to make a grand statement and since 2004 when he became the Ukambani kingpin, he used this position to largely lobby for self, his family and a few friends.

Prof Kibwana advised Kalonzo to suspend his Azimio membership and consult the community on a new political direction since Raila is not retiring from politics soon.

"Minus careful planning, Kambas will only be liberated upon Kalonzo's departure from politics. Even if Raila says Kalonzo Tosha, would Baba's supporters embrace him? That may not be possible but time will tell us if that is possible," he said.

Kalonzo shelved his presidential ambitions to support Raila after being promised the position of Chief Cabinet Secretary if Azimio won the August 9 General Election.

Political strategy advisor Barack Muluka said that coalitions in the country are about presidential elections and nothing beyond since without an election in sight there is no glue holding Azimio with the disintegration having started on August 15 last year.

Muluka said that Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli who was a key Azimio supporter was already telling the people of Western to work with Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula and asked Raila to accept defeat.

He claimed that Karua was not a force to reckon with while former Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu who is the Narc party leader has been traumatised into silence.

"Raila Odinga will not allow Kalonzo Musyoka to take over from him as Azimio leader and even if he does that those who hang on his coattails will not accept that. The only option for Kalonzo is to join President Ruto or remain politically irrelevant," said Muluka.

Benefits of power

He added that the survival of Kenya Kwanza Alliance as it is currently constituted will depend on the management of power and expectations and fulfilment of coalition promises since it is currently basking in election victory.

Muluka said that the survival of the ruling coalition will also depend on whether it has learnt from the mistakes of the 2002 Narc coalition and also ensure that the benefits of power are distributed to all partners.

"There are emerging tensions between Western and Mount Kenya leaders in Kenya Kwanza which need to be nipped in the bud. The fights around Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja need to be looked at to see if they are symptoms of deeper concerns," said Muluka.

At the same time Kanu political affairs secretary, Fredrick Okango revealed that the party and Wiper have a close working relationship forged under One Kenya Alliance (OKA).

He said the announcement Kalonzo is expected to make is very important and would impact the future of Azimio.

"Kanu, Wiper Party and ODM are expected to make their statements on the future of Azimio in the coming days. Their pronouncements will define the future of the coalition," he said.

Kioni reiterated that Jubilee was firmly in Azimio even though some leaders have thrown their weight behind UDA.

"Jubilee has structures and institutions. We are still in Azimio with ODM. We still have working relations. We will continue working together for the next four years to make sure the government fulfills all the promises it made to Kenyans," he said.

Towards the end of last year, Raila took on the Kenya Kwanza administration for several failures for the three months it has been in power

The ODM leader addressed a rally at Kamukunji grounds, Nairobi where he took a swipe at the Kenya Kwanza leadership for failing to live up to the expectations of Kenyans.

Raila had promised to lead public consultation meetings across the country for citizens to express the challenges they have been facing since the current regime came to power and promised to give his supporters political direction in the new year.

"They promised to lower the cost of food, they promised to reduce the price of fuel, they promised to empower women and youth of this country economically. Has Kenya Kwanza delivered on the many promises?" Raila posed.

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