Inside Politics

How Wanyonyi’s governor bid could rock Jubilee-ODM talks

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021 01:02 | By
Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi. PHOTO/File
Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi. PHOTO/File

The declaration by Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi to vie for Nairobi governor seat is a major test to the ongoing coalition talks between President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party and Raila Odinga’s ODM.

There is disquiet among some allies of the President and Raila over Wanyonyi’s move that they say could scuttle the negotiations between the two parties.

At the centre of contention is a demand by Jubilee Party that ODM should forego the Nairobi governor seat in exchange for the presidential one in next year’s election. 

A day after Wanyonyi’s declaration, a section of ODM leaders said that although Wanyonyi has the right to aspire for any office, his timing was wrong given that Jubilee and ODM are still negotiating to form an alliance.

ODM Nairobi branch chairman George Aladwa said Wanyonyi’s launch could jeopardise the talks between the two parties.

“We had agreed that we put everything on hold until Raila declares whether he will vie next year or not. We are still negotiating with our Jubilee partners. I feel that his (Wanyonyi’s) timing was wrong. In any case, what is the hurry for?” posed Aladwa.

Signs of brewing trouble emerged on Sunday when all the ODM and Jubilee leadership in the city skipped Wanyonyi’s launch ceremony at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.

Only ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna attended the event.

But Sifuna said the party was aware and gave the Westlands MP the green light to hold the event.

“I am not aware of any issue arising from Wanyonyi launching his bid to vie for Nairobi’s gubernatorial seat. I attended the meeting and had the apologies of all the ODM Nairobi MPs,” said Sifuna.

Ida Odinga, Raila’s wife, has already endorsed Wanyonyi for the position.

Speaking during a table banking graduation ceremony in Westlands constituency two weeks ago, Ida said the two-term MP had proved that he has what it takes to lead the people of Nairobi.

“We will ensure we support him so that he becomes the next Nairobi Governor in 2022 under the ODM Party ticket,” said Ida.

But Aladwa claimed Wanyonyi launched his campaign without consulting the party leadership at the county level.

He said once ODM and Jubilee form a coalition, there will be some form of compromise and sharing of positions.

Legislative proposals

“We are still in negotiations. In any negotiations, there are always compromises as well as give and take. If I am told that my seat will deny Raila the presidency, I will humbly leave. Our agenda number one to three is Raila to become the next president,” said Aladwa.

ODM national chairman John Mbadi told People Daily that the issue of who will be the party’s candidate for Nairobi governor was still under discussion.

Mbadi said the coalition talks between ODM and Jubilee were still in the formative stages and that there was nothing wrong with Wanyonyi launching his gubernatorial bid. 

He added that after the two parties hammer out a deal, they will agree to back one candidate to fly the coalition’s flag.

“We are still in discussions. Such issues on who will be the candidate in Nairobi will form part of the negotiations,” he said.

Mbadi, who is the National Assembly’s Leader of Minority, said they were working on legislative proposals before they seal a coalition deal.

Although he did not disclose the nature of the legislative proposals, he said they would ensure they are implemented even before the signing of the deal.

“We are interested in forming a national unity government that has Jubilee and even One Kenya Alliance leaders,” he added.

Jubilee Parliamentary Group Secretary Adan Keynan (Eldas) said to avoid the election losses that the National Super Alliance (Nasa) suffered in the 2017 election, they were rooting for joint nominations.

“For any keen observer, the sibling rivalry among coalition partners cost Nasa several parliamentary and ward seats. This is what we are trying to avoid by proposing joint nominations,” said Keynan.

He said ODM had proved a dependable political partner and it was only logical that both parties endorse a long-term working partnership.

“We plan to hold a Jubilee National Delegates Conference (NDC) later in the year to chart our next political course and we believe our members will endorse this partnership with ODM and other like-minded parties,” he said.

There is also a debate among Jubilee leaders on the impending restructuring of the party, with a section, particularly the youthful lawmakers led by Kieni MP Kanini Kega, calling for a complete overhaul of the leadership.

Jubilee will hold an NDC on November 30 to deliberate on the process of restructuring the party and its leadership to reflect the aspirations of members.

The Jubilee-ODM coalition talks are also being bogged down by the proposal in the draft framework agreement to field a joint presidential candidate as well as joint candidates for all the 1,450 wards, 290 single constituencies and the 47 counties.

While Kega insisted the matter had not been finalised and would be dealt with at a later stage, he said it was unworkable.

“It is good to be practical in some of these things. The issue of joint candidates will cause more confusion and enmity among us. It just can’t work as some people are pushing,” Kega said.

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