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Inside the six hours that sealed Raila - Kalonzo deal

Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka holds Azimio la Umoja flag bearer and ODM Party leader Raila Odinga's hand as he affirmed his endorsement for Raila to contest for the presidency. [Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

A last-minute grandstanding by Wiper Democratic Movement leader Kalonzo Musyoka almost threw a spanner into the works of ODM leader Raila Odinga's crowning as the Azimio-One Kenya Alliance presidential ticket bearer.

An Azimio event that was billed to start at 8am at the historic Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) could not pick until well past 2pm when Kalonzo capitulated under the combined weight of Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta.

After marathon talks featuring the three and Kanu chairman, Gideon Moi finally yielded a deal at noon, clearing the way for the ceremony.

In the undisclosed deal, Kalonzo agreed to postpone his ambitions once again in favour of Raila given the prevailing mood in the country.

The three then had lunch and drove to KICC where President Uhuru Kenyatta broke protocol by speaking first before inviting Raila, and declaring him the fifth president. 

Besides the rushed KICC event - another crowd was braving the scorching sun at Jacaranda grounds in Eastlands since 8am - 24 parties signed a standard coalition agreement agreeing to back Raila as the Azimio candidate.

"We the delegates of the Azimio coalition party assembled here at the KICC, this 9th day of March 2022 do hereby nominate the Right Honourable Raila Odinga for the candidacy for the Presidency of the Republic of Kenya for the election on August 9, 2022," the declaration read.

The ratification, proposed by Raila's right hand man Junet Mohamed, was unanimous. Among the parties that committed themselves to a Raila ticket included Kalonzo's Wiper, Gideon Moi's KANU, President Kenyatta's Jubilee, Raila's ODM, Charity Ngilu's Narc, Kivutha Kibwana's Muungano and Alfred Mutua's Maendeleo Chap Chap.

Political history

By 11am, anxiety had started building up at KICC, the same venue where retired President Mwai Kibaki was endorsed by parties, among them Kenyatta's then Kanu in the build up to the 2007 General Election.

This particular endorsement redefined the course of Kenya's political history, including Kibaki's subsequent endorsement of Kenyatta as the Central Kenya kingpin. 

"There where last minute consultations but really, nothing major. We had talked of 8am mainly because organising people takes time, and we knew we had two major events. I think you guys are seeing your own shadows, really," Laikipia governor and head of Raila's presidential election board Ndiritu Muriithi said.

Muriithi, alongside Kieni MP Kanini Kega and Junet, were the joint masters of ceremony at the KICC event. He claimed the event was meant to be that "short, solemn and legal." 

In the event, Uhuru spoke with unmistakable assuredness, referring to Raila as the fifth president, and leading the hall to a standing ovation for Kalonzo for making the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good.

He described yesterday's events as the beginning of a journey that would culminate in Raila residing at State House in August. He also said he was assured that Raila "would not leave his brothers and sisters behind" when he forms the government.

"These leaders here have decided that the way to form the government will be through an inclusive arrangement and no one will be left behind. Each and everyone of you here today, will be accommodated," he said.

He said Raila's government would have space for leaders who had compromised their resolves so he could be the Azimio captain.

"We have agreed in the agreements that we have signed that we will talk and come up with a proper line up," said Uhuru.

From the president's talk, it was clear that the matter of a running mate was not settled. "I have no doubt that Raila has the ability, drive and God will enable him to unite, develop this country, fight against corruption and make Kenya respected in the world," Uhuru said.

Resounding victory

For Raila, the crowning moment was historic given the tumultuous path his ambition had taken him, over the years. Accepting the nomination, with gratitude, he credited it all to the March 2018 handshake between him and Uhuru.

He paid a glowing tribute to all signatories for handing him a strong, broad and unified platform to stand on as well as "additional pairs of hands to help steady the ship."

He said he will not fail them but also reminded them that the nomination came with the responsibility to lead Azimio to resounding victory in August.

He assured them with their support he would put the country firmly on the path of greatness and prosperity.

"This journey has been one of the most unlikely in the history of our country. Nobody ever imagined that one day, the parties and individuals that fought on opposite sides in 2013 and 2017 would unite. We got here because of the March 2018 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and myself," he said.

He recalled the several meetings he held with Uhuru in private, as tension consumed the country and as the international community called for leadership.

"I recall those initial chilly meetings where we uttered nothing to each other and how they later gave way to warm brotherly chats that enabled us to take a journey down memory lane and come to a conclusion that something must change," he said.

He made a solemn undertaking to keep the pledges of leading an all-out war on poverty, corruption, unemployment and hopelessness in Kenya and actualise Article 43 of the Constitution which guarantees Kenyans the rights to education, health, food, water, housing and social security. 

"I pledge to build an economy that helps every Kenyan make ends meet, put food on the table, pay school fees for their children and save for the future; with a very deliberate focus on women," he said.

He reiterated his resolve to pay special attention to the needs of the youth, revolutionalise agriculture, improve health services and expand access to education. He also pledged to raise financial allocation to counties from the current "at least 15 per cent" to at least 35 per cent of the national budget.

"President Kenyatta has revolutionised infrastructure in Kenya. I pledge to use the platform of infrastructure to revolutionise industrialisation," said Raila.

Second document

The motion to endorse Raila was moved by KPU party leader and West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo and seconded by Mombasa Woman Representative Mishi Mboko.

Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo said a second document affirming their support for Raila would be signed later.

The parties in the grand coalition are Jubilee Party, ODM, Party of National Unity (PNU), UPIA, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), Democratic Action Party of Kenya (DAP-K), National Alliance Rainbow Coalition, Maendeleo Chap Chap, Ubuntu’s Peoples’ Forum, Kenya Union Party.

Others were Pamoja African Alliance, Devolution Empowerment Party, Muungano Party of Kenya and United Democratic Movement and Wiper.

There is also National Reconstruction Alliance, Farmer's Party, Chama cha Uzalendo, National Liberal Party, Kenya Social Congress, MDG, Kenya National Congress, Kenya Reform Party, National Agenda Party as well as Party of Growth and Prosperity.