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We will not allow co-principals to blackmail Raila, say ODM leaders

CORD leader Raila Odinga addresses local party leaders in Teso South, Busia County, during his tour of Western region. [PHOTO: EVANS OUMA/STANDARD]

NAIROBI: A fresh political storm is looming in the Opposition following accusations that Raila Odinga’s co-principals are blackmailing him to shelve his presidential ambition.

Yesterday, five Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) MPs warned that they will not allow their leader to be blackmailed into supporting others for the presidency.

The MPs, led by National Assembly Deputy Leader of Minority Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem) and ODM Director of Elections Junet Mohammed (Suna East), told CORD co-principals to stop making utterances that could rock the coalition ahead of the 2017 polls.

Coalition co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula have been quoted in the past saying they were better placed to battle Jubilee’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, compared to Raila who has lost three times.

Last Thursday, Mr Wetang’ula said that there was an impression created that Raila could not easily win a presidential contest and should cede ground for a candidate with better prospects for victory.

“Raila must support a winning team. The gesture will be very helpful to the coalition,” Wetang’ula said in a KTN interview.

Similar remarks have been made by Kalonzo, who is also the Wiper leader, in the past. He said for CORD to dislodge President Uhuru from State House, he has to be the Opposition candidate.

Yesterday, Midiwo, who was accompanied by Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja), Florence Mutua (Busia Woman Representative) and Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town), accused Wetang’ula of expecting too much from Raila despite the Ford Kenya leader’s “lack of support even in his Western region”.

“You cannot intimidate Raila to support you. And we will not allow anybody to intimidate him,” said Midiwo.

He said Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya had fewer MPs than ODM in Western, yet he still claims it is his support base.

However, Wetang’ula has downplayed his statement and accused the media of blowing the matter out of proportion.

“A section of the media falsely reported that Wetang’ula attacked Raila. How do I attack brother Raila when I am seeking his support to presidency?” Wetang’ula tweeted.

The Ford Kenya leader said he was in CORD to stay and had no plans to join the ruling Jubilee coalition.

Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama, a close ally of Kalonzo, also declared that CORD was intact and would agree on their flag-bearer.

“There is no misunderstanding. What is happening in our coalition now is democracy where people disagree to agree,” Muthama told The Standard.

Ms Mutua told Wetang’ula to go out and hunt for votes countrywide instead of waiting to be endorsed by the CORD leader.

And Kaluma accused the Bungoma senator of playing into their opponent’s hands by making such remarks in public, which could be easily interpreted to mean wrangles in the coalition.

“What Wetang’ula said was fine. However, he should know that when he speaks outside, he speaks to our enemies. If he has something to say about picking the candidate, let them talk among themselves as principals,” said Kaluma.

Junet Mohammed said the jostling in CORD was because all elective posts were available for all to contest “unlike in Jubilee which already has a line-up to 2032”.

He advised the co-principals to use the coalition’s organs in addressing emerging issues to avoid causing anxiety within party ranks.

At same time, CORD leaders have rejected Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko's advice on how the coalition should pick its presidential candidate.

John Mbadi (Suba), Daniel Maanzo (Makueni) and Jessica Mbalu (Kibwezi East) accused Sonko of being an agent of political destruction out to ruin CORD.

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