New deals by Raila, Ruto to avert fallout
Deputy President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga have been cutting political deals to boost their presidential bids and avert fallouts that could damage their ambitions.
With eyes focused on how their parties could manoeuvre the sensitive and often chaotic nominations, the two are leaving nothing to chance, putting themselves in the middle of primary elections.
Their presidential bids could be affected by botched nominations, hence the reason they have been holding boardroom talks with various aspirants.
Ruto’s party, United Democratic Alliance, will hold its nominations countrywide on April 14. Tension is already high in its strongholds, with many supporters hoping that the party will fulfil its promise to hold credible primaries.
Raila’s Orange Democratic Movement has also been trying to convince contestants to agree on whom to support.
The DP has lately been holed up in his official Karen residence brokering deals among allies and cooling down temperatures before Thursday’s nominations.
He said that he is building consensus in the “spirit of consolidating his teams in various counties in readiness for the August elections.”
He added that he has doused fires in several counties, the latest being Nairobi where he struck a deal that would see Senator Johnson Sakaja run for the governor seat while rival Margaret Wanjiru would run for Senate.
“The discussions were very intense. Many unkind words were said, left right and centre,” said Ruto after striking a truce between Sakaja and Wanjiru.
Wanjiru acknowledged that Ruto led several talks which were not as straightforward as earlier indicated.
“Everyone knows that I don’t give up easily. I am a go-getter, a fighter and someone who has lived in this city long enough not to be intimidated by anyone,” she said yesterday.
Last Friday, Ruto beseeched Speaker Stephen Ndichu to forgo his Kiambu senatorial bid and instead back Karungo wa Thang’wa.
Before then, he intervened in an intense battle between Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malalah and his predecessor Boni Khalwale, who both wanted to vie for the governorship. In the deal, Malalah will vie for the governor's seat while Khalwale will seek to recapture his seat.
The DP has also not shied away from trying his luck in the complicated Kisii politics, weaving a team under UDA that will face off with competitors in other parties. He managed to convince aspirants to rally behind Nyaribari Masaba’s Ezekiel Machogu for the governor seat and Joash Maangi for the Senate position.
In Nyamira, he has midwifed a team led by Walter Nyambati (governor) and Nyambega Mose (senator).
Backing of key figures
In the middle of deal-making, Ruto has also acquired the backing of key figures, including National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and Nairobi Speaker Mutura, who declared their support for him at the weekend. Muturi is in the Democratic Party that was for a long time led by former President Mwai Kibaki.
Raila has also been engaging in fire fighting, bringing aspirants together to agree on one candidate per seat.
He was at the centre of a deal in Homa Bay that saw Woman Representative Gladys Wanga picked as the party’s candidate for governor.
Other aspirants such as Suba South MP John Mbadi and Oyugi Magwanga dropped out in her favour.
Magwanga will deputise her while Mbadi will join Raila’s national campaign team. However, Raila will have to deal with former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, who accuses him of overseeing an undemocratic process. He has declared that he will run for the seat as an independent candidate.
Raila is also keen on smoothening the path for Siaya Senator James Orengo, who wants to vie for the governor's seat.
He was said to have met Nicholas Gumbo and running mate Charles Owino at the weekend — who want to run for the seat on a United Democratic Movement ticket.
“We agreed on the need to conduct peaceful campaigns in Siaya County so as not to distract Baba (Raila) from the gruelling task of seeking votes from the rest of the country,” Gumbo posted after the meeting.
Raila is also keen on Nairobi and Mombasa votes, two counties where he is walking a tightrope as he attempts to strike deals on governor seats. Attempts to make Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir and businessman Suleiman Shahbal agree on who will run for the Mombasa governor seat have hit a brick wall after the latter insisted on nominations.
On Sunday, he said he would not accept anything less than party elections to pick one of them.
“When Raila held my hand and that of my opponents at Tononoka grounds and promised that the party would be democratic, he should stick to that. As things stand, we will not accept handpicking of leaders for Mombasa,” said Shahbal.
In Nairobi, Raila will have to deploy his political experience in picking a competent squad to face the Sakaja-Wanjiru team.
Those angling for the city’s Azimio governor ticket include businessman Richard Ngatia and Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi. Those in the senate race are nominated MP Maina Kamanda and ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna.
Contestants for Woman Representative are incumbent Esther Passaris and nominated Senator Beatrice Kwamboka.
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who is the ODM deputy party leader, has said they are keen on consensus to pick candidates.
Pushed for negotiations
At the weekend, the governor held a meeting with ODM aspirants for various seats in the county and pushed for negotiations to settle on one person per seat.
Candidates from the area also met party officials led by acting ODM county chairman Mophat Mandela and secretary Geoffrey Mitalo.
Oparanya said that after negotiations, they came up with a list of 33 aspirants for MCA seats who will get direct tickets.
“I want to thank aspirants who have embraced negotiated democracy and agreed to step down. The move will cut down on nomination costs and possible fallout after the primaries,” he said.
He gave aspirants who have not embraced negotiated democracy until yesterday to back one of them, failing which they would be subjected to nominations on Tuesday.
The party officials also used the meeting to brief aspirants on the forthcoming nominations and responded to their concerns.
They said the party has put in place mechanisms to ensure they win a majority of elective seats in this year’s General Election.