A storm is brewing in the National Super Alliance (Nasa) opposition coalition as differences between the affiliate parties emerge on how to approach the primaries.
This is threatening the existence of the outfit, which is hardly three months old, even before the four principals — Raila Odinga (Orange Democratic Movement), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (Amani National Congress) and Moses Wetang’ula (Ford-Kenya) — agree on who among them should be the presidential candidate.
Wiper Secretary-General Hassan Omar announced that the party would oppose joint nominations to settle on candidates for various elective seats. But a day later, the ODM director of campaigns, Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, declared ODM will not allow Nasa affiliates to field candidates in its strongholds, which he listed as Coast, north-eastern, Nairobi, upper eastern, Nyanza and western regions.
Said Mr Mohamed: “It is important that these matters are also discussed and the position reiterated at the highest levels of the coalition.”
This can only escalate the infighting. In the statement, Mr Mohamed argued that intra-coalition competition will hurt the greater interests of Nasa. He is rooting for joint primaries.
“It is imperative to note that ODM has not ceded any region or territory it represents politically to any party within Nasa or even Jubilee for that matter,” he added.
Mr Omar, the Mombasa senator, said there had been no consensus on joint nominations and that Wiper would field candidates for all positions.
Mr Mohamed’s remarks followed the defection of former Cabinet minister and ambassador to Tanzania Chirau Ali Mwakwere, who is eyeing the Kwale governorship, from ODM to Wiper three days ago. Earlier, Wiper Deputy Leader Farah Maalim also shifted his loyalty from the Orange party to Mr Musyoka’s fold.
But Mr Omar denied claims that Wiper had raided ODM and other coalition parties’ backyards.
CONSIDER JOINT NOMINATIONS
“Some people seem to be angry that we have aspirants all over the country and in all the seats… If somebody feels that they are not being treated well in their party and come to us, we will not turn them away,” he said.
While there are suggestions that the parties should consider joint nominations in areas where fronting various candidates could give their Jubilee Party opponents advantage, Mr Musyoka said no agreement had been reached on that score.
Parties continue to speak at cross-purposes. Ford-Kenya Deputy Party Leader and Kakamega senator, Dr Boni Khalwale, hinted at joint primaries.
“We have mapped out the country and we know regions where there will be joint nomination to avoid wasting time and resources,” said Dr Khalwale.
Mr Mohamed’s rejoinder has attracted fury from the Nasa affiliates, who accuse him of attempting to rock the boat from within.
Mr Omar said no individual party in Nasa has the powers to order others around.
Reported by Justus Wanga, Justus Ochieng, Abdimalik Hajir, Linet Wafula and Vivian Jebet