Three Opposition chiefs have insisted that Raila Odinga should brief them about the deal with President Uhuru Kenyatta even as the ODM leader’s allies declared that there was no turning back from the rapprochement.
On Sunday, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi, and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula, whom reports indicated were set to meet last evening, said Raila had not talked with them since Friday’s surprise development.
The three said they expected Raila to explain his surprise deal with Uhuru at a meeting of the National Super Alliance (NASA) co-principals due today. They claimed that the deal was done behind their backs. There were no confirmations, however, whether Raila would attend today’s meeting as it emerged that he was planning to travel to Tanzania for a four-day visit to his friend, President John Pombe Magufuli.
But Wetang’ula said the summit would go on whether Raila attended or not and declared that the other co-principals were not short of political options ‘moving forward’.
The Senate Minority Leader said Raila had kept them in the dark on the meeting with the President since ‘you know very well we are not part of their families’, in reference to reports that close family members of the two leaders played a key role in negotiating the deal.
“We agreed to meet, we have set a venue and agreed on the time. Whether he turns up or not, the meeting will go on because we have a quorum of three. He (Raila) has not talked to me or Musalia. I am not sure whether he has spoken to Kalonzo,” said Wetang’ula on the phone.
Mudavadi said the three co-principals felt betrayed by Raila’s actions and might decide to chart their political future without him.
“Raila did not just leave us out. He never discussed his intended move with any of us,” Mudavadi said.
He said he was disappointed as the turn of events had left the fight for reforms pending.
“Personally I am extremely disappointed. But it’s confounding just how Kenyans must feel and wonder about the reason for his volte-face (abrupt about-turn) from the path of seeking justice. It is as if suddenly all the injustices committed against Kenyans are worth his station near the seat of power,” Mudavadi said.
Wetang’ula accused Raila of ‘betraying’ the aspirations of millions of NASA supporters, whom he said had suffered police brutality by State machinery.
“The aspirations of our millions of supporters that have died for the course, suffered the brunt of police bullets, tear gas among other State atrocities have all gone up in smoke,” he complained.
He said he and the other co-principals would continue pushing for electoral justice, reform in the Police Service, and independence of the Judiciary.
Kalonzo did not return our calls, but his deputy, Farah Maalim, said they would ask Raila to explain to them his decision to work with Uhuru during today’s meeting.
“We intend to ask Raila to come clean about the meeting with Uhuru. Raila called Kalonzo in the afternoon after the meeting and later in the evening. But we all want to hear from him,” said the former National Assembly deputy speaker.
ODM Chairman John Mbadi, Secretary General Edwin Sifuna, and Jubilee’s Raphael Tuju told the leaders to stop whining and instead embrace the new development since it was for the greater good of the country.
Mbadi said it was surprising to see some of the principals criticise the deal yet some of them had been calling for direct engagement between the two leaders to end the protracted political animosity.
“Kalonzo has been asking Uhuru to engage Raila directly and that is exactly what has happened. Now that it has happened and they are aware of it, let them provide suggestions on the way forward in building a united country,” he said.
Mbadi said it was a deliberate decision to lock out some people from the discussions since ‘they have always stalled such talks’.
“Raila doesn’t need to ask for permission from anybody to meet Uhuru. The agreement was to minimise people around the two leaders. They would have stalled it for their own selfish agenda,” said Mbadi.
Sifuna said ODM owes nobody an apology for the peace accord. Speaking at Konyango Jieri village during the burial of a former Karachuonyo ODM chairman, Tom Dola, Sifuna said the truce was made in good faith. Rarieda MP Otiende Amolo said the co-principals should not complain because they had distanced themselves from Raila during his swearing-in ceremony.
Tuju said there was no scheme to isolate anybody from the new alliance between the scions of the country’s founding fathers, stating that people should not read too much politics in it.
“The agreement is not a scheme to isolate anybody but to embrace everybody. If we can agree to work with ODM, what stops any other group from closing ranks and working for a united country? A conversation must start somewhere. No intention to isolate Wiper, ANC, or any other political formation,” said Tuju.
But the three NASA leaders have refused to buy into the argument, saying it was in bad faith for Raila to isolate them since the coalition was not about an individual but all the affiliate parties.
Mudavadi dismissed claims that the three had secretly began talks of working with Jubilee and that Raila just pulled the rug from under their feet.
“That is rubbish! That’s a line straight from the book of lies. It’s an attempt to justify the indefensible. I am worried that this unholy co-habitation is intended to mask the mismanagement of a broke country by Jubilee,” Mudavadi said.
Maalim described Raila as a ‘lone ranger’, adding that other NASA leaders would not be amused if his actions were for his personal gain.
“I worked closely with Kofi Annan in 2008 during the formation of the coalition government with retired President Mwai Kibaki. Annan had advocated a real government of national unity. Then, just like now, Raila went to meet Kibaki at Sagana Lodge without other Pentagon members. To date, we don’t know what happened,” Maalim said.
Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala (ANC), however, had no kind words for Kalonzo, Mudavadi, and Wetang’ula.
Mr Malala claimed that the three were hiding behind the Summit when in the real sense they now had no political future.
“They have been exposed and are unable to save face. The three were planning to ditch Raila for Deputy President William Ruto. Now that Raila has pre-empted their move, they are shocked,” the senator said.
He warned the three to stop criticising Raila, claiming that they had no platform to do so.
“After elections, we agreed to swear in Raila and Kalonzo and later form a government. But they skipped the event and they are nowhere in the NASA hierarchy. Raila as the ‘people’s president’ has the authority to engage with Uhuru. They dug their own graves, they must jump into them,” Malala said.
Vihiga Senator George Khaniri, an ANC legislator, also appeared to have abandoned his boss, Mudavadi, asking all leaders of good faith to support the deal
“I encourage our two leaders to soldier on and not look back. We urge all politicians who mean well for Kenya to join and support this project,” said Khaniri.
“Whether we reconcile or continue fighting as a nation depends almost entirely on the two gentlemen – Uhuru and Raila. Nobody feels the weight of our struggling nation than the two, on whose shoulders rests the future of millions of Kenyans,” he added.