Nasa co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetang’ula and Musalia Mudavadi yesterday narrowed the gap with the alliance leader Raila Odinga as they embraced his talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta, pending a few conditions.
The three leaders apparently mellowed after holding a four-hour closed-door meeting with Raila at Stoni Athi Resort, which was understood to have started on a tense note, before Raila explained himself and managed to convince them to go along with his truce with Uhuru.
Emerging from the meeting, it was clear a convergence had been struck as the three principals said they would be comfortable if the talks were all-inclusive, which was understood to mean they are not loath to being included.
Raila (ODM), Kalonzo (Wiper Party), Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya) and Mudavadi (ANC) emerged from the meeting hall, with the latter holding a statement that he read out to the media. Mudavadi said they had been briefed by Raila about the Friday talks he held with Uhuru, and that the three had asked for time to brief their constituent parties separately before issuing a comprehensive statement together.
Notably, Mudavadi did not mention Nasa unity as has been the case in recent joint meetings. Mudavadi said although Nasa endorses talks between Uhuru and Raila, subsequent talks should be expanded to include all political players of the opposition ilk.
“Following this frank and candid discussions, members of the Nasa Summit will now proceed to brief the organs of their constituent political parties to bring them up to speed with the development,” said Mudavadi.
“We support and encourage constructive and structured dialogue to address the causes of our national problems, including electoral injustice, insecurity, challenges of devolution, inclusivity, poverty and the attack on the independence of the Judiciary.”
None of the other principals spoke to the media after Mudavadi read the statement, but some of their lieutenants who had been allowed into the meeting gave snippets of what transpired.
One source said the meeting had started on a nervy note, with the three telling Raila to explain why he had abandoned them as he thrashed out a deal with Uhuru.
Another source said Raila appeared well-prepared as he briefed his co-principals about his discussion with President Uhuru and pleaded with them to see that it was for the good of Nasa to open dialogue with the government as they had been demanding all along. “The meeting was so tense, suspicion was high at the beginning.
The principals and members of the management co-ordination committee, MPs Sakwa Bunyasi (ANC), Simiyu Eseli (Ford Kenya), Senator James Orengo (ODM) and former Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama (Wiper) had their phones taken out of the hall and locked up at the reception. Other electronic devices including CCTV cameras in conference room where the Nasa leaders held talks were also switched off.
Not even service staff were allowed to hang inside the room for the duration of the meeting after they served refreshments, as media corps were kept far from the room. That the fortunes for the Opposition mandarins had changed was indicated by the heightened security entourage that accompanied them to the venue in the plains of Kapiti.
Raila arrived first in the same car with Orengo, heralded by a chase car, closely followed by the other principals who emerged flanked by security teams. It was on a day that security personnel was restored to opposition MPs from whom it had been withdrawn.
The leaders arrived for the meeting closely following one another, suggesting that they may have met elsewhere before proceeding to Stoni Athi The body language of the principals as they emerged from the hall suggested that their resistance towards Raila had melted, as none was keen to address the media, as had been their wont since Friday.
Mudavadi’s adviser, Barrack Muluka, who had claimed on a local TV station that Raila was bound to be locked out of the meeting, was excluded from the venue. Others locked out of the meeting hall were former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale and Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana, until late when the principals met everyone to wrap up discussions.
It appeared Raila had made up his mind and other principals had no option but to budge, according to an ODM MP present at the meeting. Orengo and Muthama appeared happy with the new developments, as they shook hands and tapped each other’s back, even before Mudavadi read the statement.