The National Super Alliance bigwigs were on Sunday evening holed up in a meeting at the Coast to agree on a presidential candidate and a power-sharing formula if they beat President Uhuru Kenyatta in the August elections.
ODM leader Raila Odinga, Amani National Congress chief Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka and Ford-Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula retreated to Vipingo Ridge in Kilifi amid a cloud of suspicions and anxiety among their allies following the circulation of two sets of line-ups last week.
Sources within the coalition revealed fears that their rivals— Jubilee Party— could have infiltrated the coalition’s National Coordination Committee to influence its recommendations which were handed over to the principals last Thursday at the Lilian Towers in Nairobi.
Mr Musyoka and Mr Wetang’ula, who addressed a rally in Kinango, Kwale, confirmed the critical meeting was to start on Sunday night.
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“We are going to meet to agree on details and when the time comes we will announce the presidential flagbearer. I urge Kenyans to be patient. Any one of us is fit to be president. This is a team aimed at salvaging the country from poor leadership,” Mr Musyoka said.
Mr Wetang’ula added: “We are not in hiding. When the time for the main retreat comes we will let you know. We are, however, meeting tonight.”
The Wiper leader was non-committal on reports that they had settled on a flag-bearer terming them lies emanating from the media.
“The media has spread a lot of speculations that we have met and decided on a flag bearer. These lies have created a lot of national tension,” he said, adding that the meeting was “to strategise on the way forward and not to pick a presidential candidate.” “Any of us can become a presidential flag bearer.”
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Mr Wetang’ula also termed the reports “fake news”.
“We have not done that and we will not do it this weekend. But we will do it and we will make it public to Kenyans. If its Mudavadi, it will be okay. If its Raila, its okay. If its Kalonzo its okay and if its Weta I will say hallelujah!” he said.
The principals will be guided by recommendations from the National Coordinating Committee which is said to have assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the four principals.
The recommendations were handed to the principals on the same day media reports, quoting sources from the committee, said they had voted to have Mr Odinga as the candidate and Mr Musyoka as the running mate.
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ANC’s leaders immediately called a press conference to dismiss the report and warned that leaking of the committees’ work endangered the unity of the opposition coalition.
The four principals later met at the Lilian Towers where it is understood some members of the committee were challenged to state if they had been compromised by external forces to sway recommendations to suit a particular candidate.
On Sunday, ANC deputy leader Kipruto arap Kirwa, who is also a member of the committee, clarified that they had no mandate to vote on the proposals.
“We don’t vote as a committee, we go by consensus. Our committee has no capacity to make decisions on who should be the candidate. We only pass the proposals by the experts to the principals who will make the final decision,” he said on the telephone.
Asked about allegations of infiltration by Jubilee, he said: “I arrived at the tail-end of the meeting. I did not ask about what transpired at the beginning.”
The coordinating committee, led by Siaya Senator James Orengo, later issued a statement dismissing the media reports.
Mr Musyoka and Mr Mudavadi went in to a meeting at hotel in Karen later that evening but it was not clear what they discussed.
On Friday, another document about the search for the Nasa presidential candidate was leaked to the media, this time claiming Mr Mudavadi had been chosen as the flag bearer with Mr Musyoka as the running mate.
The Nation learnt that Sunday evening’s meeting was to dwell on how to share ministerial slots and other top government positions if Nasa wins.
“The principals are coming to discuss how to share top government positions,” a member of the committee who asked not to be named said.