Another grand coalition for Kibaki?

President Mwai Kibaki, Health Minister Charity Ngilu, Ford Kenya boss Musikari Kombo and veteran politician Kenneth Matiba are putting up a grand coalition that may heighten the political temperature in the country, we can report.

If this succeeds, the next elections may pit the original National Alliance Party of Kenya (NAK) – that was made up of Ford-Kenya, Democratic Party of Kenya (DP) and the National Party of Kenya (NPK) against the Rainbow Coalition that was the vehicle used by Kanu rebels who refused to grace the enthronement of Uhuru Kenyatta at Kasarani stadium ahead of the 2002 general elections.

The process towards the formation of the major coalition that may see the national elections for Narc-Kenya slated for next month stopped has already begun.

The Ngilu initiative is capitalizing on emerging rows within Narc-Kenya pitting the young and old turks on one hand, and another between sitting MPs and parliamentary aspirants.

Ngilu, who is spearheading the initiative, flagged off the idea with a meeting in Nairobi, where she brought together 18 small parties on the table.

Pointers to a grand coalition were evident due to the players brought together by the Ngilu initiative.

Kenneth Matiba was represented through his party Saba Saba Asili, Matiba recently applied for his voter's card in Kiharu sending signals across his backyard that he intended to return into politics.

"His (Matiba's) influence cannot be underestimated, and if indeed he is getting in the Kibaki bandwagon he is a big asset in terms of bagging the ever evasive Kiambu and Murang'a vote that has always denied Kibaki the block in the Central region," observed political analyst Peter Waiganjo when reached for comment.

Another key player was the Democratic Party which has been struggling with identity in Narc Kenya and has in fact begun its grassroots' elections in disregard of the Narc-Kenya election programme.

DP is President Kibaki's former vehicle in elective politics and loyalists like Joseph Munyao who is a long serving secretary general of the party has stuck with the party.

The presence of President Kibaki's trusted nephew Alex Mureithi further added to the rumours of a grand coalition.

Interviewed on the sidelines of the Grand Regency meeting, Mureithi said: "we had met to decide the next face of politics of this country."

He further told The Kenyan Spectator that, "we can now confirm without any doubt, that we will defend the seat of the presidency, and we will defend it vigorously."

Said Mureithi: "We believe Kibaki will be our presidential candidate and we are inviting all the others to come over to us for discussions since we know some of them want Kibaki as their candidate."

"We will soon be conducting joint nominations for parliamentary and civic candidates," he further said but declined to explain what he meant by joint.

Another curious player in the meeting was a faction of the Labour Party of Kenya led by Julia Ojiambo who is a presidential candidate under the Orange Democratic Party of Kenya.

Ford-Kenya sent their apologies to the meeting. That came only a day after the party director of elections, Noah Wekesa, fell short of endorsing President Kibaki for a second successive term.

Wekesa was quoted saying: "After all we were patient for 40 years Kanu was in power, let Kibaki run, it is his democratic right," Wekesa said.

"Kibaki has every right to seek Kenyans mandate for the second term," Wekesa insisted.

The minister said the pre-election pack entered into by those who formed the National Rainbow Coalition in 2002 was no longer binding and called on his fellow colleagues to allow Kibaki to finish his work of putting Kenyan into the right economic and development path.

Dr. Wekesa said even though his party may not endorse Kibaki's candidature, the achievements made by his government speak for themselves.

The Kwanza member of parliament said five years was not long for those harbouring their ambitions to wait, adding after all Kenyans endured 40 years of a despotic Kanu reign.

The statements by Wekesa are likely to be seen as a pointer to the direction Ford-kenya is going to take in the next election.

Another face, in the political play, who also sent apologies was Kamlesh Pattni through his newly acquired political outfit KENDA.

KENDA applied to be enjoined in the coalition, a prayer that was not immediately granted.

Mazingira party associated with Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai also participated  in the meeting. Other smaller parties included Sisi kwa Sisi, and the Republican Party of Kenya that has since been inclined to televangelist Pius Muiru – it was not clear why they were meeting since they were already sponsoring a presidential candidate.

That came as Narc-Kenya the party that has been assumed to be the automatic vehicle that President Mwai Kibaki will use for his re-election plunged into an open feuding.

We learnt that despite fronting a show of unity in public, the Narc-Kenya sitting MPs are facing a major row with parliamentary aspirants who want to take up their positions during the grassroots nominations set to take place at the end of this month.

The difference between the two groups are so intense, that the parliamentary aspirants group now wants to form a political party that they say will campaign for a second term for President Mwai Kibaki, but challenging the MPs at the constituency level.

The row is what prompted a group led by Health Minister Charity Ngilu to hold a meeting with a group of 18 small parties in what was described as a parley "to revive the Narc coalition."

Besides Alex Mureithi, the meeting was also attended by a large section of those that funded Kibaki in 2002 elections. They resolved to "seek a coalition that Kibaki would be comfortable with seeking votes countrywide".

That came even as party officials led by acting chairman Mukhisa Kituyi explained that the interim constitution had yet to be ratified by the National Delegates Conference – the highest decision making body of the party and that it would be amended next month.

However, the parliamentary aspirants on their part read foul play in the issue saying that by the time it is ratified the nominations set for end of this month will have been concluded and would have heavily favoured sitting MPs.

The grand coalition may spell another dilemma for Kibaki who has yet to declare on which party's ticket he would seek re-election.

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