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Did Uhuru, Raila talks bury Nasa?

Dinah Ondari @dinahondari

The unity deal between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition kingpin Raila Odinga unveiled last Friday may have dealt a final blow to the Nasa coalition.

Political analysts and indeed some members of Nasa agree that the meeting between the two leaders was the “funeral ceremony” for the opposition coalition which has been suffocating under a cloud of mistrust since the beginning of the year.

Even as Kenyans grapple with the likely consequences of largely surprise handshake between the two on off political enemies, it is emerging that it would take a miracle for Nasa to survive as a unit. Reinforcing this possibility are the statements coming from the three co-principals in reaction to the deal.

An array of political analysts — Peter Kagwanja, Danston Omari, Dennis Anyika and Makueni senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr — concur that Nasa coalition has outlived its purpose. They separately, but broadly, cite what one of them termed the “incoherent statements” coming from the coalition leaders concerning the swearing in of Raila on January 30 as “peoples president” which did not help matters.

“Whether Nasa can survive as a coalition is in doubt. Raila, who is the leader of the principal partner ODM, has left. We may have another coalition in the offing but we have just seen the last of Nasa,” Prof Kagwanja told this writer.

Kagwanja added, however, that Uhuru-Raila deal was good for the two leaders as it was a sign that they had officially ditched their hitherto bitter positions on the 2017 presidential election. “It helped Jubilee in the sense that Raila was able to recognise Uhuru as the legitimately elected President while Uhuru was able to admit that Raila is a key player in Kenya’s political future,” he said.

And according to Omari, Nasa will suffer the same fate as did Cord, URP and TNA. “Nasa was specially created for the single purpose of acquiring power, a mission that has failed, it will therefore die the same way Cord, TNA and URP died,” he said.

Omari feels the Friday event may have been a culmination of a game between Raila on one side and the other three to joining hands with Jubilee: “There may have been a scramble between Raila and the other three on which is more attractive to Jubilee…. could it then be that Raila outsmarted them?” Omari posed.

He went further to conclude that the death of Nasa is even more imminent for the simple reason that the other three principals, individuals or even collectively do not posses the same clout as Raila to attract any serious interest from Jubilee.

Omari said the only reason Jubilee may want to have Kalonzo, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula on board is for purposes of Uhuru’s legacy: “They might not get huge rewards like Raila but the President may want to reconcile the country as whole.”

Kilonzo Jnr, who belongs to Kalonzo’s Wiper Party, did not mince words as far as the fate of the coalition is concerned: “Nasa unity was put on test on January 30, 2018. This event left dents and fissures in Nasa.

Raila appears to have thrown caution to the wind possibly after an internal assessment of the coalition. They may not say it in public but it is clear that there is mistrust amongst them. Raila will chart this course irrespective of the consequences.

It is up to the rest to decide whether to follow.” Anyika, on his part, was poignant: “Nasa died on January 30. What happened on Friday was just a funeral ceremony. Political coalitions survive purely on trust.

They have failed to give a coherent explanation of why they were not present at Uhuru Park.” The verdict by analysts comes hot on the heels of separate statements by the leaders of Wiper, ANC and Ford-Kenya which all boil down to dissatisfaction with Raila’s move to join hands with Jubilee.

While Kalonzo became the first to issue a statement on Friday saying he was not consulted, ANC’s Mudavadi tore into the Raila move saying it did not reflect the will of Kenyans. On his part, Wetang’ula termed Raila a betrayer (see separate story). However, by last night, it was clear that there were open divisions within the individual Nasa parties.

Besides, Kilonzo Jnr (Wiper), George Khaniri and Cleopas Malala (both of ANC) told Mudavadi and other principals to drop their hardline stance and join Raila in charting the political future of Kenya.

It was also unclear whether a meeting between all the Nasa principals, earlier scheduled for today would still go on as planned, even as Kalonzo and Wetang’ula met last evening in what was termed as preparations for the meeting. Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa also differed with his Ford-K party leader expressing support for the deal.

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