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Rush to seal power deals

By - | November 30th 2012

By Allan Kisia and Peter Opiyo

NAIROBI; KENYA: As the December 4 deadline for submission of pre-election pacts to the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission beckons, leaders on Thursday heightened the frantic effort to wrap up the crucial power deals in time. 

The political landscape tilted again with the last-minute rush as party leaders strove to clinch pre-election deals which they hope will enhance their voter blocs and improve their chances in March 4 elections.

As others fought to win over partners or to clinch the most promising deal, the coalition hammered out by Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto exuded confidence since they have already crossed this treacherous bridge.

The day also saw a new partnership between Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa, who last week left the Uhuru and Ruto group, with former influential Kanu minister Nicholas Biwott’s New Vision Party (NVP) and retired military general John Koech’s United Democratic Party (UDM).

Independence party

Though Kanu was listed as a member of this new coalition, its Secretary General, Mr Nick Salat, immediately denied the Independence party was part of it even though he conceded they were still in discussions with the group.   

As Wamalwa, Biwott and Koech met at Norfolk Hotel, Nairobi, there appeared signs an alliance between Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka was approaching fast.

Members of Parliament from Raila’s Orange Democratic Movement and Kalonzo’s Wiper Democratic Party met at Lands Minister James Orengo’s private office in Nairobi reportedly to refine the deal already on the table for the two leaders to agree on.

Representing Raila alongside Orengo was Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno while WDP Secretary General Mutula Kilonzo and Kangundo MP Johnstone Muthama represented Kalonzo.

Muthama and Mutula met Orengo at his private office in Lonrho House, Nairobi, before they went for a meeting with the PM at his Office.

Also at the meeting were Kibwezi MP, Philip Kaloki and Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno.

Insiders say the two sides are almost reaching a deal that would see the former allies work together. They say what is holding back the deal is a formula on how the two sides would share the slots in government.

Denied talks

“The deal is almost done and the two sides are only working on the formula,” said a source. It is understood the deal would be signed before Tuesday. Contacted, Mr Muthama said: “We are all Kenyans and we can’t fail to agree.” He however, could not divulge the details of the meeting saying he is not authorised to speak at this moment.

The flurry of meetings took another direction when word went round that Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Narc Kenya’s Martha Karua were meeting at the Norfolk Hotel. Karua however emerged from the hotel and denied talks with Mudavadi.

The flurry of meetings appeared to have been ignited by the speed at which Uhuru and Ruto are pushing their alliance. On Thursday, Uhuru met about 40 MPs allied to TNA at Pan Afric Hotel in Nairobi to explain the details of the deal he clinched with URP and its leader William Ruto earlier in the week.

Ruto, who appeared to be moving faster than others, was on Thursday in Baringo County selling the deal in which he is Uhuru’s running mate.

After the Nakuru rally on Sunday, URP and TNA will hold a joint National Delegates Conference (NDC) in Nairobi on Monday to ratify the tentative power-sharing deal in case the pair win.

At Norfolk, Wamalwa said he had struck a deal with UDM, NVP and Kanu and conceded that there were no agreements in the G7 Alliance where he left Ruto and Uhuru.  Kanu leaders were however absent at the meeting.

Biwott and former Agriculture minister Kipruto arap Kirwa witnessed the deal. “There were differences in the G7 Alliance and we could not agree. That is politics. Despite all that, I am still pursuing my presidential ambitions,” Wamalwa stated.

Salat was not present but later told The Standard they had not signed the deal yet but was open to working with ‘open-minded’ leaders who represent the face of Kenya. 

He said Kanu was a national party but it did not append a signature to the documents because of procedures, which must be followed before such an undertaking was done.

He expressed hopes that by Monday, something tangible will have come out of the talks. “We are a national party and we want to be associated with people who want to take this country forward,” Salat added.

Beating deadline

The press statement released by Wamalwa, Biwott and Koech, stated that a team comprising of National Executive Council members of the four parties, together with technical and legal experts, would begin negotiations and develop a pre-election coalition before December 4.

“The agreement will be ready for depositing with the Registrar of Political Parties within the stipulated time,” they promised. 

The ODM-WDP meeting came a day after Raila met Kaloki in his Office at Parliament buildings. It is understood Kaloki told the PM how MPs from Eastern region were divided on ODM-WDM alliance.

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