Kalonzo ditches Azimo after talks with Uhuru fail
Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka yesterday bolted out of the Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition after he was overlooked in the nomination of its running mate.
The former vice president made the move despite last-ditch attempts by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga to make him reconsider his decision.
On the day Raila unveiled Martha Karua as his running mate, Kalonzo who was accompanied by One Kenya Alliance co-principal Gideon Moi, announced he would run for the presidency 15 years after a failed attempt in 2007.
At a press conference in Nairobi, Kalonzo announced he will vie for the top seat on his Wiper party ticket. It remained unclear if Kanu had also cut ties with Azimio as the party secretary-general Nick Salat was at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) where Raila unveiled Karua.
Speaking at the SKM Command Centre in Karen, Kalonzo said he had chosen the path after he realised he would not be picked for the position he occupied in the last two General Elections.
He said he had been put under pressure to throw his weight behind a ticket that has the backing of the President who chairs the Azimio council. He said Raila had visited his home last week to beseech him to accept the less influential chief minister docket but he opted to leave Azimio altogether.
Sources also said Kalonzo on Sunday met with the President who buttressed Raila’s attempts to unlock the standoff but he was also unsuccessful.
“He came home to convince me to accept his choice of Karua, we didn’t’ agree and we said let's sleep over it and we slept over it and last night we were at it again. We didn’t agree so this is why we agreed that he will name Martha and I will name my running-mate today. My name is before the IEBC as a presidential candidate for Wiper,” he revealed.
Yesterday’s decision was a culmination of activities that pointed to the leader’s discomfort in Azimio after it became apparent he was not the preferred candidate for the second-most senior seat.
The Wiper leader had already indicated unease within the coalition. Last week, he went on a tour of his Ukambani backyard where he claimed that he was being mistreated by the coalition, citing the requirement to appear before a panel interviewing candidates for running mate.
Despite his protests, Kalonzo made an about-turn and appeared before the panel. “Although the eminent persons have done their work, the final decision has actually been taken by the candidate himself, Raila.
It is his own decision which I respect and I wish him and his running mate Martha Karua well. But I also made it very clear that, and I know our country well, that decision will meet with overwhelming opposition and therefore we have agreed to go our separate ways and compare notes as we move,” he said.
Revisiting the day he accompanied Raila and Uhuru and other Azimio leaders to Jacaranda to celebrate the signing of the agreement among the over 20 outfits in March, Kalonzo said he did not expect to be dragged through mud and interviews.
“Kenyans had assumed at Jacaranda when I said Raila Tosha for a third time that it was done. People did not expect that there will be a contest and dragging through the mud one who has selflessly said this country is more important than all of us,” he said.
The Wiper leader said he would not let his supporters down although he will now have to face off with Raila and Deputy President William Ruto, who is the Kenya Kwanza candidate. Ruto has picked Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua as his number two.
Kalonzo picked Narok senate candidate Andrew Sunkuli as his running mate. Sunkuli was seeking the seat on a Wiper ticket for the second time but will now have to drop his ambitions to join Kalonzo’s ticket.
“For how long do people expect Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka to be the one who always has to sacrifice, and after the sacrificing they mess up the country. We would not allow this to continue. We are set,” Kalonzo said.
Wiper Secretary-General Shakila Abdalla said they were not going to look back, promising they will ensure Kalonzo’s name is in the presidential ballot paper in August.
“We are going all the way to the ballot. Azimio has bad plans for the country. We will reveal all the secrets they have for this country as we go across the country to campaign for Kalonzo,” said Abdalla.
Sunkuli said he was surprised to be picked and expressed his readiness to campaign for the Wiper leader.
“When he told me I was going to be his running mate, I thought we were going to be jogging together because I normally have running-mates in the morning. With all humility I accept the nomination to be running-mate of the presidential candidate of Wiper party,” said Sunkuli.
Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr said there was no turning back. “He was never allowed to speak during Kibaki’s funeral, that is when we realised something was not right,” he said. Gideon declined to make any remarks during the event.