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Blow to Raila Odinga as defections rock Azimio ship

Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, make his way to address members of the press on May 9, 2022. [Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

It is trouble in paradise for Azimio la Umoja One Kenya as it suffers defections a month after it was launched with pomp and colour at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi.

Yesterday, Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua’s Maendeleo Chap Chap and his Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi’s Pamoja Africa Alliance (PAA) pulled out of Azimio, claiming that there was secrecy in running the affairs of the coalition.

Immediately after resigning from the coalition led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, the two parties signed agreements with the Kenya Kwanza Alliance under the mantle of Deputy President William Ruto, which was timed before the deadline for depositing coalition agreements at the Registrar of Political Parties.

PAA obtained orders from the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal (PPDT) presiding member, Erastus Orina, to be allowed to pull out of Azimio.

“That pending inter-partes hearing of the Notice of Motion application simultaneously with the complaint, an interim order of stay is hereby granted staying the implementation of the gazette notice No. 4442 dated and issued on April 13, 2022, to the extent that it provides that the 1st Respondent is a constituent party of the interested party,” the orders stated.

The orders PAA sought on May 7, at the PPDT in Mombasa were to allow them to be free to exit Azimio and join another coalition.

Following the development, the Registrar of Political Parties (RPP) Anne Nderitu yesterday said that parties were free to exit coalitions, technically invalidating her earlier argument made a week before.

When Maendeleo Chap Chap and PAA approached the RPP last week, she said Azimio is now formally registered, and she has no powers to sanction any withdrawals, unless they meet the set provisions as per the coalition agreement deposited at her office.

“No party may withdraw from the coalition six months before the August 2022 General Election or within three months after the date of the said General Election,” read Article 22 of the agreement quoted by the RPP in declining to allow the two to exit Azimio.

Ms Nderitu noted that a party wishing to withdraw from the coalition must first give a 90-day notice to the Coalition Council. Maendeleo Chap Chap and PAA parties had written to RPP separately, seeking to withdraw from the coalition.

A section of Maendeleo Chap Chap party members had sought to quit Azimio, claiming its party leader Dr Mutua did not follow the right procedure when joining the coalition, while PAA claimed that the party’s National Executive Council did not ratify the Azimio coalition agreement.

Maendeleo Chap Chap and PAA are among more than 26 political parties that signed an agreement to form the coalition whose presidential candidate is former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Yesterday, Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu tweeted acknowledging that there was indeed a problem in the coalition that needed to be addressed lest they lose to Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

“Azimio la Umoja is very disorganised. We need to work extra and organise our team well, failure to that, William Ruto will beat us badly,” tweeted Ngunjiri. 

While announcing the exit from Azimio, Dr Mutua accused the coalition’s presidential candidate Raila Odinga of playing underhand politics. 

“Azimio la Umoja has become a club of a few with the rest of us standing outside peering through the window as the few club members strategise and feast,” he claimed. 

The governor said they made the decision to walk away after Azimio failed to make public the coalition agreement signed with affiliate parties three weeks ago. 

“Last night we signed a coalition agreement with Kenya Kwanza and we already have got a copy unlike that for Azimio. I will traverse Kenya campaigning for Dr William Ruto as I believe he is the best president to take Kenya forward,” he said.

Dr Mutua said despite writing close to five letters to Azimio, no response has been forthcoming.

“We are not part of any decision-making processes on issues involving the coalition. We just hear these things in the media like everybody else yet we are part of the coalition,” said Dr Mutua.

“It has turned into a group of friends who meet for tea and make decisions,” he added.