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January 21, 2019

Raila keeps off Karen home as principals lie low

NASA Coalition Principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Raila Odinga, Moses Wetangula and Musalia Mudavadi address the press at Okoa Kenya Office./JACK OWUOR
NASA Coalition Principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Raila Odinga, Moses Wetangula and Musalia Mudavadi address the press at Okoa Kenya Office./JACK OWUOR

NASA leader Raila Odinga is reportedly operating from a city hotel, crafting his Cabinet amidst pressure from his lieutenants to drop his co-principals Moses Wetang’ula, Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi.

He has also avoided his Capital Hill office in Upper Hill since his swearing-in as the “People's President” at Uhuru Park last Tuesday.

Apart from a press conference he addressed on Thursday with his co-principals before attending the funeral service of the Yvonne Wamalwa at Consolata Church in Westlands, Raila has maintained an unusually low profile.

Family sources say only businessman Jimmy Wanjigi and his daughter Winnie have unfettered access to him most of the time.

Must read: How Wanjigi pushed Raila to be sworn in

It is unclear whether the decision to operate from the upmarket hotel is to avoid possible arrest, for security reasons or a strategic retreat meant to allow him to work out his next political move.

He had promised to make a comprehensive statement on Friday stating the way forward, but his communications team sent out a statement postponing this to a later date.

So far lawyers Miguna Miguna and TJ Kajwang’, who is also the Ruaraka MP, have been arrested for their roles in the swearing-in.

On Saturday police also arrested Makadara MP George Aladwa, but he was released on free bond. Investigators said he was questioned in relation to the attack on Kalonzo’s home on Tuesday night.

Likely names of Raila’s Cabinet and their roles remain unclear. His coalition partners are not fully involved in the exercise.

His close allies, mainly from his ODM party, want the Opposition to drop the three, arguing they add no value to the coalition.

The three skipped the swearing-in ceremony, but have since come out defending themselves, saying the move was tactical and that Kalonzo would be sworn in at a later date.

However, none of Raila's die-hard supporters want to hear this and instead are pushing the former Prime Minister to start grooming Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho for the top job in 2022. Joho introduced Raila to the crowd before he took the oath.

Nyando MP Jared Okelo told the Star yesterday that the trio had roles to play during the ceremony, adding that Raila should scout for new trustworthy friends.

Related: Raila 'sworn-in' as people's president, Kalonzo absent

“The country was expectant, but they still chickened out. No event in the history of the NASA coalition has attracted local and international attention of that magnitude. What other events could they still be waiting for? With that I still maintain that the Right Honourable Raila Odinga should cast his political net wider to catch new allies,” Okelo said.

He added: “Abandoning our People's President at such a crucial moment of his enthronement was the epitome of betrayal and cowardice. The other three principals were all in the country and none was indisposed. They all knew about the swearing-in ceremony”.

Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo has also asked Raila to re-consider his position on the three leaders.

Yesterday ODM Uriri MP MP Mark Nyamita and his Mathare counterpart Anthony Oluoch said Kalonzo, Wetang’ula and Mudavadi should not be allowed near Raila, unless Kalonzo takes the oath.

“Baba [Raila] has been sworn in, Kalonzo, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula should not talk to us before Kalonzo takes the oath," Nyamita said at a NASA rally in Baba Dogo, Nairobi.

Oluoch said: “Let them cleanse themselves first before we allow them near Raila”.

However, Makadara MP George Aladwa, who hails from Western, appealed to ODM not to “sacrifice the Luhya nation,” saying they firmly support Raila.

"Do not sacrifice us on behalf of Wetang’ula and Mudavadi. We Luhyas are firmly in NASA," he said at the rally.

Even as Raila plots his next move, a major falling out looms over the composition and operations of a key committee of the coalition that organised the swearing-in.

The Strategy and Technical committee, led by David Ndii, has come under criticism from Wiper, Ford-Kenya and ANC.

The cracks were brought to the fore by Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana, who complained that Wiper had been kept in the dark regarding the preparations.

“ODM has not been fair. Even our representatives in the plans were kept in the dark most of the time. We are part of the NASA coalition, but most of the time we were not briefed on meetings and progress,” the Governor complained, speaking on Musyi FM on Thursday.

Tomorrow Wiper Party will hold a leadership meeting to discuss the way forward and their role in the NASA outfit.

Sources say complaints by the other political parties about the composition of this committee began late last year, when Raila’s co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula took issue with the manner in which Ndii was carrying out the committee's affairs.

Also read: Politics of Betrayal: Why Raila was sold out by his friends

The co-principals complained that they were never consulted on crucial issues but were instead often presented with decisions reached without their input.

Wetang’ula even offered to personally attend the committee meetings when critical issue were to be discussed, but it is said that he has never been invited to any meeting, even after the offer.

Regarding the decision to swear in Raila and Kalonzo, Wiper, ANC and Ford Kenya all complained that their reservations about the propriety of the move were not taken into consideration and that the Ndii-led committee was only concerned about the views of ODM when reaching decisions.

“All the political strategies suggested by this committee border on the radical. It’s a very ODM approach in everything. Some of us would prefer a more pragmatic approach to politics, but when we suggest so we are branded cowards”, said a senior Wiper official.

Mudavadi, the ANC party leader, is also said to have preferred a less radical response to Jubilee’s controversial victory at the polls.

His closest advisers Kibisu Kabetesi, Dan Ameyo and Barrack Muluka are said to have already laid out strategies for engagement with Jubilee.

However, the ANC Secretary-General, Godfrey Osotsi, has come out fighting against the team, branding them Jubilee puppets. He claimed they have formed a cartel to push the party leader into a working relationship with the government.

The Ndii committee is being accused of being ODM heavy, with a majority of the members being associated with Raila.

Wiper is said to have only one representative by the name of Koitamet ole Kina.

Ford Kenya also has only one member, Bram Simiyu, while ANC has no representative. The rest of the members, who at times reach a total of 15, are all allied to Raila.

“The truth is you cannot plan for Kalonzo, Mudavadi or Wetang’ula the way you plan for Raila. With Raila you can plan anything, however dangerous. He will be there. But not everyone is like that. The coalition partners want the committee membership to be balanced so that the alternative voices to ODM can be heard,” another source told the Star.

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