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Kalonzo Musyoka's options after fallout with Raila

Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka with his running mate Andrew Sunkuli display party certificates at the SKM Command centre in Karen, Nairobi on Monday, May 16, 2022 [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

When Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka announced that he was going to contest the presidency after he missed the running mate slot in Azimio, some observers doubted him.

Many thought he was time-barred because the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s (IEBC) April 28 deadline for submission of candidates’ names had expired.

Yesterday, it emerged that Wiper had submitted Mr Musyoka’s name as its presidential flag-bearer to IEBC much earlier.

Wiper officials told The Standard that the move was made long before the party joined Azimio and was, perhaps, Mr Musyoka’s way of buying some insurance in the event that he was not named Raila Odinga’s running mate.

“We submitted the name before the deadline, as per the law,” Wiper secretary-general Shakila Abdalla said, adding that only IEBC could raise concern if the party had not done so in good time.

The party’s deputy secretary-general and Makueni MP Dan Maanzo concurred, adding that, “The only thing we submitted yesterday was the running mate’s name.”

Mr Musyoka confirmed the same as he unveiled his running mate Andrew Sunkuli on Monday, saying he had Wiper’s mandate to seek the presidency.

“It so happens that my name, as we speak, is before IEBC as a presidential candidate for Wiper Democratic Movement,” the Wiper leader said.

IEBC did not respond to our inquiries on whether Wiper had submitted Mr Musyoka’s name as its presidential flagbearer by April 28.

“It could be that Wiper submitted Kalonzo’s name to  IEBC and that is why they were confident in making the demands on running mate,” Bobby Mkangi, one of the drafters of the Constitution, said yesterday.

“The question then becomes: Did Wiper endorse Raila Odinga?” Mr Mkangi posed, arguing that Wiper party may have “kept the post open.”

He said Mr Musyoka would have “legal problems” if his candidacy was not presented within the stipulated timelines.

Another impediment to the Wiper leader’s candidacy is the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya agreement he signed on March 12. The deal, under Article  22, ties him and his Wiper party to the coalition until three months after the elections. He also cannot leave the coalition six months before the election.

Mr Maanzo said Wiper has moved to court, but declined to reveal the party’s prayers, when they filed the case and before which court.

Mr Mkangi said that Mr Musyoka could get a reprieve in court, assuming that his party submitted his name to the IEBC on time.

“It would be difficult to stop him from running and exercising his political rights because of the agreement,” he said.

The constitutional lawyer further argued that if Mr Musyoka decided to ignore the agreement, it would be up to Azimio to go to court.

Force run-off

Prof Gitile Naituli, a lecturer at the United States International University, said Kalonzo may force a run-off if Mt Kenya does not swing decisively towards the Raila-Martha Karua ticket.

“He wants to force a run-off so that he can be taken seriously. But he is the author of his own misery since he declared quite early that he was not ready to work with Kenya Kwanza,” Prof Naituli said.

“Once you do that, you cannot be taken seriously because you have already offered yourself to someone else, who will not have to work hard for your support,” he added.

In the event that his path to seeking the presidency is blocked, Mr Musyoka could decide to go back to Azimio or move to Kenya Kwanza. At Azimio, he has the position of Chief Cabinet Secretary that was announced by Mr Odinga on Monday.

A similar position is reserved for Musalia Mudavadi in Kenya Kwanza, but he could negotiate a deal were he to join the Ruto-led coalition.

United Democratic Alliance Secretary General Veronica Maina yesterday said Kenya Kwanza was open to negotiations with new partners.

“He would have a chance to negotiate but definitely not on the top tier in terms of the presidential candidate and the deputy presidential candidate. Those are already closed. Maybe at different levels. The government has many opportunities and we believe that Kenya Kwanza will form the next government. He would still find something if he came along,” Ms Maina said on Citizen TV.

“Kalonzo is open-minded,” Mr Maanzo said on the Wiper leader’s prospects of a reunion with Mr Odinga and that teams from the two sides are still in talks