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NASA dilemma as affiliates lay ground for parallel primaries

NASA leaders from right: Kalozo Musyoka, Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi,Moses Wetang’ula

As leaders of the National Super Alliance (NASA) prepare to pick a flag-bearer to face Jubilee Party’s Uhuru Kenyatta in the August 8 polls, a decision by affiliates to conduct separate nominations has sent signals all may not be well within the nascent coalition.

Recent weeks have seen heightened activities by individual parties amid harsh exchanges between aspirants jostling for tickets in what appears to be jolting unity in NASA.

Although the four principals – Raila Odinga of ODM, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula and ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi – have been seen campaigning jointly since NASA was unveiled, each of the four parties has been laying out plans to conduct nominations for all elective positions, save for president.

This has raised fears that earlier plans by the coalition to identify specific hot spots where they would field single candidate may be a pipe dream. The country will therefore likely witness a cutthroat tussle for the seats between NASA contestants, dividing votes and giving Jubilee an edge. NASA had appointed a National Coordinating Committee (NCC) with three representatives from each of the four affiliate parties to among others identify areas where ‘special circumstances’ will compel them to conduct joint nominations.

Committee members are James Orengo, Agnes Zani and Timothy Bosire from ODM, Bonny Khalwale, Eseli Simiyu and Chris Wamalwa representing Ford Kenya; ANC has Sakwa Bunyasi, Kipruto Kirwa and Yare Mohamed while Wiper has Johnstone Muthama, Francis Nyenze and Farah Maalim.

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The team was mandated to establish rules for joint nominations where circumstances demand, but that seems to be crumbling as most parties push for their own aspirants.

The coordinating team was also supposed to map out key regions and consequently, it has zoned the country into three colours; green, red and yellow. The green represents NASA strongholds, red Jubilee strongholds and yellow (amber) areas considered as battle grounds.

The yellow zones include highly cosmopolitan areas such as Nairobi, Nakuru and Mombasa.

Wiper Secretary General Hassan Omar has already announced his party will not engage in any joint nominations, saying such a move is akin to dissolving parties. Last week, Ford Kenya and Wiper cancelled separate meetings which were meant to brief NEC members on the contentious plan for joint primaries.

Wiper had also summoned its NEC members to discuss the nomination rules submitted to the Registrar of Political Parties last week but cancelled it, citing a quorum hitch.

Wetang’ula had also invited journalists for a briefing over nomination plans but cancelled it, giving credence to reports of a possible attempt to play down exchanges between the partner parties. Yesterday, the party’s National Elections Board convened a meeting for aspirants at the Mabanga Training Centre in Bungoma County to deliberate on party nominations set to kick off next month. On Friday, ODM became the first party to announce a 22-day staggered party primaries in 26 counties. Ford Kenya, Wiper and ANC are set to announce their nomination dates after unveiling respective elections boards. In Mombasa, a number of ODM leaders have crossed over to Wiper and those from the former have also crossed to the latter. The unity test of the embryonic coalition was put to test immediately after its inception when the parties rejected a bid by ODM to introduce two new members to the coordinating committee. Raila had proposed the inclusion of Kajiado Central MP Elijah Memusi to ostensibly represent minority communities and Busia Women Rep Florence Mutua to represent the Orange party interest in Western, but the move was turned down by the other partners.

Nomination rules

Yesterday, Mudavadi laughed off fears of a fallout out over the question of primaries, saying the matter had been adequately addressed in the nomination rules filed with IEBC and Registrar of Political Parties.

“I have said and I repeat that joint nominations are exceptional than the rules themselves. The nomination rules given to the registrar provide three options; consensus, joint nominations or outright competition,” the ANC chief told The Standard on Sunday. He added: “In green zones, we shall opt for outright competition but in amber (yellow) zones where we feel that competition will cost us a seat, we shall go for consensus or joint nomination while in red zones, we can give direct nominations.”

Khalwale said the nomination rules that NASA filed at the Registrar of Political Parties are not restrictive and allayed fears of a fallout, since “people want to read more into minor details of minority places at the expense of the majority areas”.

“We will attempt to build consensuses and if we don’t agree that then we will go for joint nominations in highly cosmopolitan areas like Nairobi,” he said. Bosire said individual parties were free to announce their activities, adding that the mapping out areas for joint primaries is yet to be completed.

“There is a lot of excitement and hullabaloo in the media about the joint nominations yet we have not finalised the plan. This is a premature debate and personally I am not happy with the directions the debate is taking. You need to be patient and wait for us to announce the programme,” he said.

Bosire added; “We are not like Jubilee which folded its affiliate parties and are now regretting. Ours are individual parties who will agree on some areas where we will hold competitive primaries, collegiate method or direct nominations.”

Senator Muthama said: “We will do anything possible to ensure that the unity of the coalition is maintained,” said Muthama.

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