Kenya opposition leaders inch towards ‘super alliance’

Cord leader Raila Odinga (left) with Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi at a political rally in Laikipia on December 6, 2016. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI

Kenya’s 2017 presidential election could be a two-horse race if the ongoing talks among opposition politicians to rally behind one candidate against President Uhuru Kenyatta bear fruit.

Opposition politicians announced that they were close to inking a deal to endorse one presidential flag-bearer to face off with President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto in the August elections.

But this week, President Kenyatta laughed off the opposition unity talks, saying he was still the man to beat.

Addressing several roadside rallies in Nandi County — Mr Ruto’s home ground — in the Rift Valley region, the President described the opposition politicians as “self-seekers” only interested in sharing key leadership positions among themselves.

“I hear some of them want to take my job. Others have been promised the deputy president and prime minister’s positions. Let them go on with their plans, we will face them in 2017.”

Super Alliance

Opposition politicians led by Raila Odinga intensified campaigns last week for a single candidate, as Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi came on board to signal the formation of a coalition they call a super alliance to face Jubilee Party.

The Kenyatta administration has been hit by allegations of corruption and industrial actions by public servants, with health workers still on strike over a pay dispute.

The key players in the proposed alliance are Mr Mudavadi, Mr Odinga, Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi.

Mr Odinga and Mr Mudavadi last attended political rallies in Laikipia and Tharaka Nithi counties, which are considered Jubilee strongholds.

Mr Mudavadi was Mr Odinga’s running mate in the 2007 general election but they fell out in the run-up to the 2013 polls. Mr Mudavadi stood for presidency and came out third, garnering 483,981 votes.

February deadline

There have been meetings between the politicians crafting the National Super Alliance, with February next year set as the deadline to come up with a line-up.

So far, the politicians have agreed to put on hold demands for specific positions in the proposed political outfit to avoid differences that could frustrate progress.

According to Kibisu Kabatesi, Mr Mudavadi’s spokesperson, the last meeting between Mr Odinga and Mr Mudavadi took place in the Aberdares region in central Kenya on Wednesday, and they agreed that a deal will be sealed before February so that they can run campaigns in line with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission timetable. – The East African

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