By Rawlings Otieno
A supremacy battle may be brewing in the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) after the declaration by both Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka that they would contest the presidency in 2017. On Tuesday, the Wiper Democratic Party’s (WDP) top decision-making organ endorsed a resolution that leader Kalonzo must be a presidential candidate in 2017 when President Uhuru Kenyatta seeks re-election. The declaration by Wiper’s National Governing Council (NGC), after a meeting attended by Kalonzo yesterday, comes barely a week after Raila publicly stated for the first time that he would contest the presidency for a fourth time. “We will have a presidential candidate in 2017 and call on all the rank and file members countrywide to take national identity cards and register as voters in large numbers in readiness,” Wiper Chairman David Musila said in a statement read on behalf of the party after the meeting in Nairobi. And although the party explained they would pick their presidential candidates independently to face those from other CORD affiliate parties to pick the coalition’s candidate, the emphatic statement about having their candidate on the ballot was telling. The NGC also resolved that Wiper would not be dissolved to join CORD, and would be strengthened but would not quit the coalition. Last week, Raila also said he would make another bid for the presidency in the 2017 General Election, but said his candidature would be subject to consultations within CORD. See also: Wiper overhauls assembly leaders Joint primaries “In all my presidential bids, it is known that I have only been defeated once during the 1997 General Election. I must remain to tell Kenyans that the person who wins the contest becomes the President,” Raila told a morning talk show on a vernacular radio station. He added: “Nothing can stop me from vying for President in future elections. If Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) clears me to vie in 2017, then I will be on the ballot.” Although Raila and Kalonzo have referred to joint CORD primaries to pick the coalition’s flag bearers, it is telling that both seem to suggest that a nomination by their respective parties is a done deal. Recent developments have signalled Raila’s intention to be on the presidential ballot in the next elections, including initiating leadership change in his ODM party. As part of the preparations to clinch the presidency in the next elections, Raila said his Orange party would conduct early primaries to contain discontent without spilling into the poll period.
“We plan to conduct our nominations one year to the election so that those who are not satisfied with the outcome and wish to leave can do so. This will help to curb election violence and rigging,” Raila said. Kalonzo’s allies have also openly alluded to a 2013 pre-election deal in which Kalonzo agreed to be Raila’s running mate on condition that Raila would back him in the next elections. Raila and Kalonzo ran on a joint presidential ticket in the 2013 elections that they lost to President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto. Yesterday, Kalonzo also moved to tighten his grip on Wiper by cracking the whip on dissenters in a bid to quell internal feuds. In what could also open more rifts between Kalonzo and Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, Wiper expelled Machakos County Assembly Majority Leader Joshua Mwonga, a close ally of the governor. See also: Wiper overhauls assembly leaders Mr Mwonga was expelled for fighting in public contrary to Chapter Six of the Constitution on integrity. Immediate expulsion The party also endorsed the expulsion of Machakos County Assembly members Ndinda Mbithe, Margaret Ndalana, Jackline Nziva, Ruth Ndumi and Mary Ndinda Paul (all nominated) for allegedly failing to respect the position of the party on the impeachment of Deputy Governor Benard Kiala. The NGC also unanimously endorsed the immediate expulsion of Makueni County Assembly Majority Leader Francis Mutuku alias Muso for heading a bid to impeach Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana, contrary to the party’s position on the issue. “We had agreed as a party not to support any kind of impeachment. We want our governors to work and deliver services to the people. As a party we do not support impeachment of any of our members,” said Kalonzo. This means that the six will lose their elective seats if the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declares them vacant.
According to the NGC, Bensley Muthuku and Jonathan Ndugi have been elected to be the Makueni County Assembly Majority and Deputy Majority leaders respectively. Martin Muthuku has been elected the Chief Whip and Lizer Zacharia is the new Deputy Chief Whip.