Raila-Kalonzo breakfast meeting raises speculation
An early morning breakfast encounter between Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM) and his Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) counterpart Raila Odinga has ignited speculation about the two former allies working together in the August polls.
The two former principals in the National Super Alliance are reported to have met at a five-star hotel in Mombasa for almost an hour. Also at the meeting was Kanu chairman and presidential candidate Gideon Moi. Though details of the meeting were scanty with Kalonzo’s allies quick to downplay its significance, sources intimated to People Daily that their conversation centred on “possible formation of a super coalition bringing together One Kenya Alliance (OKA) and Azimio La Umoja.”
“The two leaders discussed the possibility of them joining hands to work together in the coming General Election because they have one common enemy, who is Deputy President William Ruto. Of course the talks have been ongoing, and this one was just part of the process,” said a source privy to the meeting.
Coming barely three days after Kalonzo gave a hint of ongoing talks between the two to create a grand coalition that will ensure them victory in the first round on August 9, the meeting is set to cause excitement and shivers on the political scene.
“The time to win the presidency in the first round is in the making. We are in talks to make this a reality,” Kalonzo told a rally in Nyamira county on Thursday last week.
The Wiper leader said the talks between him and Raila, spearheaded by President Uhuru Kenyatta, were at an advanced stage and that the results would be unveiled soon. “I have made it clear that we are talking to the President. You may be thinking that he is going away… but he is busy strengthening Jubilee,” Kalonzo stated.
“Tuko tayari kufanya mazungumzo na wenzetu wenye roho safi, wasio wafisadi. Wafisadi ndio wamesababisha kutokuwa na ajira,” (We’re ready to negotiate with like-minded outfits who are not corrupt. The corrupt are the ones behind the massive unemployment facing Kenya).
Kalonzo’s assertions had been preceded by similar remarks by Gideon, who told Kanu aspirants that OKA principals are negotiating with Azimio leaders as equal partners and whoever they will agree upon would be the coalition flag-bearer.
“Vile tunaenda sasa tunazungumza na wale mnajua tunazungumza, negotiations are underway alafu from there hao wako na presidential candidate wao na sisi tuko na candidate wetu ambaye tutasema. Halafu tutakutakana tukubaliane, Mungu akipenda kwamba tutatoa risasi moja,” (as you all know, we are in negotiations with our known like-minded partners who already have a presidential aspirant. But since we shall also have a presidential aspirant, we shall agree to front one among them,” Gideon is reported to have said.
Sources privy to yesterday’s meeting revealed that Kalonzo, who had last year vowed never to cooperate with Raila in future, has lately softened his stance and is willing to enter into a political deal with the man he approached the 2017 General-Election with as a running mate.
Those in the know say that though Kalonzo has expressed willingness to work with Raila, he is reluctant to commit on paper, citing past betrayals and pressure from some of his close allies, who are opposed to any deal that suggests the former Vice-President should support the ODM leader’s presidential bid for the third time in a row.
Kalonzo is said to be keen on entering into an agreement that is guaranteed to hold.
In order to enter into any deal with Raila, Kalonzo is said to have laid down some conditions that include President Uhuru being a guarantor to ensure the pact holds; that governors Charity Kaluki Ngilu (Kitui), Alfred Mutua (Machakos) and Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) are reined in to stop attacking him; and that all the parties negotiate as equal partners without any undue advantage to Azimio.
Yesterday, after the breakfast meeting, Kalonzo headed for a Sunday church service at Kengeleni before proceeding to an OKA rally at Kadongo playgrounds in Mishomoroni area in Kisauni constituency as Raila went to preside over an Azimio meeting at Mombasa’s Tononoka grounds.
Speaking during OKA rally, Kalonzo downplayed reports of a deal with Raila, saying he had only met the ODM leader over breakfast.
He added that any form of political coalition talks involving the OKA movement will be anchored on a “structured dialogue and in good faith.” “If there will be talks, it will be on the basis of structured dialogue. Those that want to speak to us must do so in good faith and ensure there is transparency,” said Kalonzo. Playing down the significance of yesterday’s meeting, Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua, a close ally of Kalonzo, insisted the encounter had been a mere coincidence since the two leaders found themselves staying in the same hotel.
“It was only by coincidence that OKA leaders who were in Mombasa were staying at Tamarind hotel where Raila was also putting up. In the morning when we went for breakfast, we found Raila having his breakfast. Kalonzo passed by his table to greet him. There was nothing more than that,” Wambua, who is believed to be one of the hardliners opposed to their leader working with Raila, told People Daily.
“Take it from me that Kalonzo is determined to go all the way to the ballot. Just ignore all the talk about an imminent coalition between OKA and Azimio,” Wambua said. But Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi, who chairs Raila’s Campaign Board, confirmed that OKA and Azimio are engaged in negotiations to enter into a coalition.
“Where there is smoke, there is fire, obviously. Watch this space because very soon you are going to see the white smoke. But let me not talk about the breakfast meeting because I don’t want to jeopardise the outcome,” Muriithi said by telephone.