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NASA principals sideline Raila in strategy to win by-elections

By Moses Nyamori and John Shilitsa | December 24th 2020
Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka hosts politicians from lower eastern to discuss BBI bill at the Stoni Athi resort. The meeting was attended by ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya's Moses Wetang'ula. 

NASA principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang'ula are crafting an alliance to field joint candidates in upcoming by-elections, The Standard has learnt.

The leaders of Wiper, ANC and Ford-Kenya, yesterday held a meeting at Stoni Athi Resort to agree on a political pact that will see them back a single candidate in the Matungu, Kabuchai, Machakos and Nairobi by-elections.

The move by the NASA principals signals emergence of a third political force that would face off with the handshake team led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga as well as the “hustler nation” spearheaded by Deputy President William Ruto.

It further signals a decision by the three principals to cut political ties with Raila as they prepare for the 2022 General Election.

Details of the pact indicate that the three leaders have agreed to back ANC candidate Peter Oscar Nabulindo for Matungu constituency by-election occasioned by the death of MP Justus Murunga who was elected on the party ticket. 

In Kabuchai, the leaders will back Ford Kenya candidate to replace the late MP James Lusweti who was elected on the party ticket.

There is a similar agreement in the Machakos senatorial by-election, where Wiper’s candidate will enjoy the backing of the other outfits. The late Senator Boniface Kabaka was elected on Chama Cha Uzalendo.

Test their popularity

The three are yet to agree on how to handle the Nairobi gubernatorial by-election. In the 2017 polls, the Opposition coalition backed ODM’s Evans Kidero, who unsuccessfully defended the seat for a second term.

Evans Kidero, who was backed by ODM in the 2017 Nairobi governor race.

“The three parties have agreed to back one candidate in each of the three by-elections. The pact is premised on the need to prevent sibling rivalry by the partner parties,” said a source at the meeting.

Yesterday, Kalonzo confirmed the meeting, but declined to divulge details. He said they met to discuss the Building Bridges Initiative. “We are consulting. This is a weighty issue because there would be a gubernatorial by-election in Nairobi and senatorial in Machakos,” said the Wiper leader.

Sources said the plan by the three NASA principals is meant to test their joint popularity through the by-elections before they can decide to go for the General Election as a team.

ANC deputy party leader Ayub Savula confirmed the game plan, saying the three were already working on a possible alliance in readiness for the next General Election.

“We are already working on plans for 2022 alliance. Currently, our focus is on clinching the seats left vacant before we can embark on a journey for the next General Election," he said.

“As ANC, we are not fielding a candidate in Kabuchai. We will also not field a candidate in Machakos. Our focus is on Matungu and the other partners have agreed to back our candidate,” said Mr Savula.

ODM chairman John Mbadi, however, said the party would not be blackmailed against fielding candidates in the by elections, accusing their partners of double standards.

Mr Mbadi noted that their partners have been fielding candidates in areas considered ODM strongholds. “Our decision will not be influenced by our relationship because they have always refused to play ball. I don’t think ODM will fail to field a candidate in the by elections. Matungu is a place where ODM has strong presence,” said Mbadi.

Likuyani MP Enock Kibunguchy said it was not enough for Mudavadi and Wetang'ula to claim to be working together while leading rival political outfits.

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