Kalonzo and Raila hour of reckoning

The decision on the method to pick ODM-K presidential candidate arrived at in Naivasha last week will, in a matter of weeks, so radically change politics of the party as well as shape the final presidential contest towards the end of the year.

In separate interviews with The Leader this week, ODM insiders Mr Joseph Kamotho and Ms. Nazlin Umar, also a presidential aspirant, said the country should expect major announcements from ODM-K corner any time from now.

Said Kamotho: "Just keep your ears on the ground. There will be major announcements and activities in a matter of days, if not weeks."

On her part Nazlin said: "The nomination method arrived at in Naivasha will soon open a pandora's box. In the apst, some people have behaved as if they are ODM-K and ODM-K is them. Now let's see how many delegates each one of us will, and can bring on the table."

Kamotho could not agree more. He said:"We have one presidential candidate who talks just too much and is too full of himself. He has created the wrong impression thet ODM-K is him. The constituency delegate system will be his hour of reckoning."

Elsewhere on Wednesday, councilors from Kalonzo Musyoka's Mwingi district said they had done their mathematics and established that Kalonzo would garner more delegate votes than raila Odinga, hence they would not accept any situation where Kalonzo would step down for the latter.

Said the civic leaders: "We will not accept any arrangement where Kalonzo steps down for anybody. We have enough numbers even to bargain with Narc-Kenya should the need arise."

And Kamotho disclosed that grassroots Kanu and LDP leadership from Central Province will soon be holding a meeting to chart out a joint approach to the ODM-K presidential nomination.

He said: "We are major stakeholders and we won't be playing second fiddle to anybody. We too have the numbers to stake it out like anybody else.

At the same time, Kamotho was at pains to explain that ODM-K is very much a Central Kenya affairs as it was elsewhere.

He explained: "The erroneous picture that ODM-K is the enemy of Central Province was created during the referendum and is now perpetuated by Narc-Kenya. This is the impression we want to erase soon and the next thing will be to marshal enough delegates for the province to secure the ODM-K presidential nomination on our way to State House."

Nazlin, on her part, hinted at new realignments and possible defections in ODM-K soon. She reckoned: "Depending on the strength of blocs of delegates backing individual presidential aspirants, we are bound to see very different alignments from what we have heard so far."

But she was also quick to hint at possible defections if ODM-K nominations are manipulated in any way.
Asked whether they were hints that ODM-K nominations would be manipulated, Nazlin said: "What do you expect when we have the ODM-K secretariat dominated by people from one region? Obviously they would exploit every opportunity to tilt the balance in favour of the candidate from that region."

Pushed to elaborate, Nazlin said there was no hiding the fact that the ODM-K secretariat is dominated by supporters of Raila Odinga, starting with the secretary general, Prof. Anyang' Nyong'o.

She said" I have said it time and again that the ODM secretariat at the moment leaves the impression that it is working for just one ODM-K presidential aspirant, Raila and his friends.

She gave the example of the Naivasha meeting where the secretariat attempted to lock her out on the argument that the meeting was for ODM MPs alone, only for Raila's friends Musalia Mudavadi and Tony Gachokla to top in the list of invitees.

She says she finally had to force her way into the meeting when the secretariat refused to budge.

"You can be sure what kind of nomination there will be in ODM-K if this kind of secretariat has its way," she says.

For a long time, political pundits have argued that ODM-K façade of unity would last as long as the issue of the party's nomination of presidential candidate was avoided forever.

Indeed, ODM-K as it is today was born out of the unity of purpose in rejecting the draft constitution in The November 2005 referendum.

After that, it has stayed united as long as there was a joint issue on which to take on the government of the day. But as the 2007 elections gets around the corner, the party, inevitably has to confront the tricky issue of deciding on one presidential candidate from a pool of half a dozen possible candidates.

Aware that the issue could split the party in the manner of the original Ford in 1992, a day before the Naivasha meeting last week, ODM-K presidential candidates hurriedly convened at Safari Park Hotel to deliberate on whether they could agree to pick their candidate by consensus and avoid the potentially divisive ballot method.

Alternatively, the Safari Park parley sought to postpone the issue of nomination until after June.

Sources in ODM-K disclose that Raila was the key mover of both proposals which were rejected off-hand. Kalonzo, Ruto and Uhuru would hear none of it. Kalonzo, say his allies, was even ready to walk out of ODM-K the very same day if the consensus method were adopted.

It turned out that Raila had craftily left the idea to be presented and argued at the table by his friends, Musalia Mudavadi and Najib Balala.

Apparently, Raila – and by extension his allies Musalia and Balala – will be the first casualties of the nomination process agreed on at Naivasha.

Before Naivasha, conventional wisdom was that Raila and Kalonzo were the men to watch in ODM-K, with the rest in the pack playing second fiddle.

Far from it, Messrs. Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto have moved to the frontline to leave Kalonzo and Raila in their wake, in that order, according to observers.

Going by constituency delegate system ODM-K will be using to pick its presidential candidate, Uhuru has a head start with 112,000 sure delegates. This he can sweep clean in his native Central Province and the Rift valley Kikuyu diaspora of Nakuru and Laikipia districts. He can also count on the Eastern districts of Meru and Embu, which traditionally vote with Central province and the upper Eastern traditional Kanu districts of Isiolo, Marsabit and Moyale. Lastly he can count on at least four constituencies in Nairobi, including Dagoretti, Kamukunji, Starehe and Mathare.

The next is Ruto with 82,000 sure delegates from the vast Rift valley province. The vote is from mainly the Kalenjin districts in the province except Baringo district where the Moi family would do anything it takes to stop him. For a good measure, he could also count on the North-Rift vote as well as Samburu vote, though the Maasai vote cannot be guaranteed. In Narok District, William Ntimama may take the vote to his friend Raila, while Uhuru will most likely run away with kajiado and Transamara districts, besides Laikipia and Nakuru.

Trailing at third is Kalonzo with 62,000 sure delegates. These are from the four Ukambani districts of Machakos, Makueni, Kitui and Mwingi. Besides, and often underestimated by analysts, there is huge Kamba vote in the coastal districts of Mombasa, Taveta and Taita.

Raila is surprisingly at the bottom with only 52,000 sure delegates at the kick-off. These are 44,000 from the Luo Nayanza and Kisii's South Mugirango constituency, the only place he has a chance in the province outside the Luo constituencies. Raila can also carry with him at least four city constituencies, including Langata, Westlands, Kasarani and Makadara.

This has always been the irony of Raila's electoral chances. While he is a great mobiliser and can be counted on to bag in as many votes, it appears this only works as long as he is campaigning for someone else but himself. A good example is the 2002 election where he is credited with ensuring Kibaki won the presidency but his real contribution in votes was below 600,000 votes of 3.4 million votes that saw Kibaki romp home in victory.

This is how Kamotho explains it: "If Raila was to hold a meeting at Kiganjo (in the heart of Nyeri district) today, most likely he would attract a bigger crowd than President Kibaki. But come polling day, he would get zero votes!"

The nomination arrangement in ODM-K is also likely to spring other surprises. For instance, were retired President Moi to suddenly wake up to the reality of Uhuru being the ODM-K flag bearer, would he switch loyalties? After all, his main problem in ODM-K has always been a Raila presidency. What happens were he to realize he can actually live his 2002 Uhuru Project dream by backing an Uhuru candidacy in ODM-K?

And lastly, in the unlikely possibility of the entire ODM-K crowd – including Raila – saying Uhuru Tosah, where would that leave president Kibaki?

These are some of the interesting scenarios now made possible by ODM-K's nomination rules, and part of the entire drama in the countdown to the December election.

Uhuru Kenyatta – 112,000 delegates

William Ruto – 82,000 delegates

Kalonzo Musyoka – 62,000 delegates

Raila Odinga – 52,000 delegates

 (Src. The Leader)

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