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Raila endorses joint primaries

Luke Awich and Murimi Mutiga @PeopleDailyKe

Cord leader Raila Odinga will go head-to-head with his co-principals in a nomination process, with the winner to run on the coalition’s ticket for the presidential race next year. Raila yesterday welcomed the call by Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka for Cord ticket to be contested for by all candidates, with the winners to carry it into the General Election.

Kalonzo on Monday proposed that Cord be registered as a political party, in the model of Narc of 2002, in which all affiliate parties would field candidates under one umbrella. The move would be short of dissolving partner parties—ODM, Ford-Kenya and Wiper—as did 13 parties that formed the Jubilee Party two weeks ago. But Raila and Kalonzo two sides appeared to read from different scripts on the level at which they should hold joint nominations.

Wiper wants a joint nomination for only the presidential flag bearer by all parties under Cord, while individual affiliate parties are left to nominate candidates in their strongholds who would be fielded nationally under the coalition umbrella. However, Raila’s ODM is vouching for a joint nomination at all levels from the Members of County Assemblies, Women’s Representatives, MPs, senators, governors, to the presidential candidate.

According to Raila, the arrangement should be for the three Cord affiliate parties to offer candidates for joint nominations with the winners to fly the coalition’s tickets as either ODM-Cord, Wiper-Cord or Ford Kenya-Cord. Cord is a coalition of Wiper, Ford Kenya and ODM parties whose leaders—Kalonzo, Moses Wetang’ula and Raila—have all declared interest in flying the coalition’s presidential flag.

“Raila is in agreement with the proposal by co-principal Kalonzo for joint nominations between the parties forming Cord and the fielding of candidates in a similar fashion with that of Narc in 2002,” said Raila’s spokesperson Dennis Onyango.

However, it remained unclear how the affiliate parties would navigate the thorny issue of fielding nominees from three different entities, a system that saw heated controversies erupt in Narc in 2002, to a point where candidates were allowed to vie from any party, provided they backed the defunct Rainbow outfit.

Wiper secretary general and Mombass Senator Hassan Omar said on Monday that the MoU signed between Raila and Kalonzo in 2013 was still valid, even as he noted the Cord coalition was in mid-discussions to field a single candidate. “Ultimately, we must field a candidate who can win elections.

At the moment we are still on the drawing table,” said Omar. While beginning a week-long tour of the Coast region, Raila said Cord was still strong and noted coalition would encourage other parties willing to join and support the joint nomination arrangement that would enables them retain their identity while flying the corporate Cord flag.

“This arrangement will help the coalition avoid competition among constituent parties that saw them split votes and lose seats in some areas,” he said. Raila’s proposal is, however, different from Wiper’s proposal which seeks to have Cord listed as a political vehicle to be used by the coalition’s presidential candidate and in specific areas where the affiliates agree to have joint nominations.

Wiper’s National Executive Committee (NEC) members met yesterday and rubber-stumped the idea of one party as they insisted the umbrella outfit be only restricted to the presidential nomination, with affiliates being left to go solo in their strongholds.

“Our presidential candidate as Cord will not run on ODM, Wiper or Ford-Kenya, he can only vie on a Cord ticket,” said the senator. Apart from the presidential and specific seats where the coalition will rally behind a joint Cord candidate, Wiper wants to field its own candidates in areas it considers its strongholds.

Wiper is also not comfortable with the recent declaration by Governors Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) and Kidero (Nairobi) that they would be presidential candidates in 2022, claiming such remarks are hurting the coalition. “The only scenario where Kidero, Joho and Oparanya can be president is if ODM goes as a party (in 2017) and Raila loses.

They are not working to strengthen the party but to undermine the party. We have asked our party leader to tell them to suppress some of these ambitions until the time is right,” said Omar. Wiper’s NEC also ratified a series of rallies across the country to market the party ahead of the August, 2017 General Election.

The party will be pitching camp in Mombasa between October 1 and 2 where they will hold aspirants’ meetings and roadshows on the first day and a major political rally the following day.

Perhaps reacting to move by Jubilee, which merged its constituent parties to form one outfit, Kalonzo on Monday said should Cord be registered as a party, the winner of a joint nomination exercise will use its ticket to vie in next year’s poll. He said he has discussed the idea with other Cord principals, adding that there was “plenty of goodwill”.

Kalonzo disclosed they were selling the idea to Kanu chairman and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, with a view to bringing his party into the fold. “I am not forcing it on anybody’s throat, this is one thing we are studying as opposed to a merger,” he said.

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