The Opposition coalition is this week expected to submit to the electoral commission its power-sharing agreement and method of nominating its candidates.
Sources said the National Super Alliance (NASA) had agreed on the coalition agreement and draft nomination rules, and was ready to pick a presidential candidate in the next 21 days. According to reliable sources, a 12-member national co-ordinating committee that has been meeting since its formation a fortnight ago has finalised coalition agreement documents, which will be submitted to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the Registrar of Political Parties on Wednesday.
The agreement, once deposited with the registrar, will formalise the alliance that brings together the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), Amani National Congress (ANC) and 15 other parties.
The technical team is understood to have agreed on how the alliance leaders who miss out on presidential and running mate slots will be accommodated, and how cabinet slots will be shared should the coalition form the next government.
“Apart from the presidential flag-bearer and his running mate, the remaining two principals will be given the speaker and majority leader roles, either in the National Assembly or the Senate,” the source told The Standard.
The source also indicated that should NASA win, the president might also name one of the principals as a chief minister.
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“This is the equivalent of the now defunct prime minister’s portfolio. The chief minister will be assigned responsibilities directly by the president,” the source said.
He insisted that the work of the committee was not to name the presidential flag-bearer but to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each and how these could be used to win the elections.
“We are working on a compensation formula to make sure there is no loss for any of the four leaders. This is why all four will be given slots to nominate suitable candidates for a 22-member cabinet,” the source said.
“The president will be given five cabinet slots, the deputy president six, while the remaining two principals get three slots each. The remaining slots will go to smaller parties,” he said.
“We want to make sure that the cabinet slots are shared among all the people of Kenya. The principals will not be allowed to nominate people for their cabinet slots from one region,” said the source.
The coalition’s presidential candidate will be chosen based on his popularity and his party’s strength and ability to build on NASA’s strength to garner support from other communities, especially the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin.
IEBC requires parties to submit membership lists by March 19.
The parties shall then have 10 days (from March 26 to April 5) to submit the names of candidates for their respective party primaries.
Once the exercise closes, IEBC will have seven days to gazette the names of candidates in all party primaries – from presidential, parliamentary and gubernatorial to civic seats.
The gazetting will be done by April 12.
Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa, a member of the committee, said there was no pressure on the team to discharge its mandate, and that the four Opposition leaders would make a formal communication in the course of the week.
“We have achieved many milestones and the principals will make an official communication this week. So far, there has been no headache,” said Mr Wamalwa.
Another source clarified that although the committee’s work was well cut out under the terms of reference, discussions revolved around how to unseat Jubilee from power rather than who would be the Opposition’s presidential candidate.
He added that the committee had agreed on the coalition’s structure, secretariat, national co-ordinating committee and management board.
“The coalition agreement is ready and will be deposited with the Registrar of Political parties. The agreement is in line with the Political Parties Act,” said the source.
Political analysts Philip Chebunet and Kioko Ireri said the alliance had many options for presidential flag-bearer.
Dr Ireri, a professor of journalism and communication at the United States International University, believes that the Raila-Kalonzo, Raila-Mudavadi or Raila-Wetang’ula ticket would mount a major political challenge for Jubilee.
“Given Raila’s stature, I don’t think he will want to be anyone’s running mate. If this happens, maybe he will just support his colleagues and rally his supporters to support them.”
He added that the Opposition’s main task remained maintaining their unity.
“The bottom line is remaining together. Unity is the key; even losing the weakest partner will cost the alliance votes that are important in a tight race,” said Ireri.
Mr Chebunet noted that a Raila-Mudavadi ticket would be seen as a ‘Western bloc’ offering and would not sell in other parts of the country.
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He argued that Raila had cut a figure of a confrontational politician who would revenge on the ills meted out by previous regimes, but a Mudavadi-Kalonzo ticket would deflate even the most die-hard Jubilee supporters.
“A Mudavadi-Kalonzo ticket will not give the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin the motivation to vote in large numbers. And if you have Raila as the presidential candidate, even dead voters will rise to vote,” said Chebunet.
He however believes that former President Moi and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi would be comfortable with Mudavadi as the alliance’s presidential flag-bearer, giving the former deputy prime minister a head-start.
According to Chebunet, a Mudavadi-Kalonzo line-up would complicate matters for Deputy President William Ruto’s anticipated 2022 presidential bid.