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Drama, Betrayal in Kenya Political Alliance Deals

Deputy Prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto arrived at Musalia Mudavadi’s home unannounced, with a coalition agreement drafted for his signature, according to aides.

Mr Mudavadi, whose future was far from bright were he to run on his own, had courted the two for months and all but given up on their alliance after they signed an agreement at Jeevanjee Gardens on Monday afternoon.

The alliance couldn’t have come at a better time: Mr Mudavadi had been abandoned at the altar by his best suitor, Mr Peter Kenneth of Kenya National Congress. The two had on Monday night agreed on a deal which was to be signed at 2pm at Uhuru Park’s Freedom Corner.

By Tuesday morning, Mr Mudavadi was not succeeding at getting Mr Kenneth on the phone, according to aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to divulge confidential details.

The deal-making preceding the Tuesday deadline for alliance forming was dramatic, full of spectacular reversals, breathtaking betrayals and owed more to politicians and their advisers thinking on their feet at the last minute, than careful strategising.

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka’s decision to join Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s coalition had thrown a cat among the pigeons, causing a stampede that has completely altered the political landscape.

On Monday, Water Minister Charity Ngilu kept deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto waiting at the Norfolk Hotel even as she was switching allegiance to the rival alliance of Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka.

In a change of fortunes on Tuesday, it was Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto who came looking for Mr Mudavadi and it was the turn of the Sabatia MP, later on Tuesday, to become scarce, when Mr Kenneth and his partner, Mr Raphael Tuju, were looking for him.

Mr Mudavadi’s Riverside residence was venue to the most astonishing part of the political drama and may at one time have hosted two different delegations on the same mission — seeking his signature.

Mr Gideon Moi was at the DPM’s house around the same time as Mr Kenyatta and Ruto and indeed signed a deal with the United Democratic Forum. It is not clear whether the parties knew of each other’s presence.

Unable to reach Mr Kenneth on Monday night and Tuesday morning, Mr Mudavadi called his allies, Housing Minister Soita Shitanda and Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale to his home to prepare for signing of the deal with Kanu.

His press team had sent an invite to an event at Uhuru Park at 1.30pm, but no one seemed quite sure with whom they would be signing the agreement. They later called it off.

Mr Ruto reportedly called at about 10.30am asking where he was. Some 10 minutes later, Mr Kenyatta called and asked the same question.

At that time, a crowd was building up at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, waiting for Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka to sign their agreement.

URP, TNA and UDF MPs had nudged their leaders to unite to give their State House bid an edge over their rivals who were congregating. There was also talk of a call from senior people in government for the trio to form a coalition.

That, perhaps, explains Mr Ruto’s statement during the signing of the agreement: “It is important that we present a united front for the people of Kenya so that they can have an opportunity to vote for a stable government, which this coalition represents.”

Without informing Mr Mudavadi that they were on their way, Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto abandoned their bodyguards and drove to the UDF leader’s residence with documents already prepared to incorporate him in their coalition at about 11.15am.

They were accompanied by Cabinet minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere and Mvita MP Najib Balala. They then relaxed as Mr Mudavadi and his team pored over the documents.

After one-and-half hours, Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto joined the UDF team to deliberate on the proposals, which they agreed on around 3pm.

From Mr Mudavadi’s residence, they drove to the URP offices on Muchai Drive, off Ngong Road, where they agreed to sign the deal.

At the same time, the UDF leader’s spokesman Kibisu Kabatesi dispatched a statement to media houses, indicating that the Sabatia MP will announce his coalition by the end of the week with an option of going it alone.

“A public announcement of the national people’s coalition will be made before the end of the week,” he said.

At about 5.15pm, they left for the Laico Regency where they were joined by MPs drawn from TNA, URP and UDF.

At the same time, they had dispatched officials of their respective parties — Mr Francis ole Kaparo and Mr David Chirchir (URP), Mr Hassan Osman and Mr Dan Ameyo (UDF) and Mr Johnson Sakaja and Mr Onyango Oloo (TNA) to deposit an amended version of their coalition agreement with the Registrar of Political Parties.

They later, at about 8pm, joined Mr Mudavadi, Mr Ruto and Mr Kenyatta to announce a fresh coalition at the Laico Regency.

For Mrs Ngilu, who had a dalliance with Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto, it was a question of getting on board the ODM-Wiper coalition by all means.

On Monday night and Tuesday morning when the team from ODM, Wiper and Ford Kenya were finalising details of the coalition agreement at Lands Minister James Orengo’s Lonrho House office, Mrs Ngilu showed up unexpectedly and asked to be part of the coalition, a request that was accepted.

“She came when the talks were at a very advanced stage, but we used clause two of the agreement to accommodate her. The clause allows the agreement to be amended to accommodate the interests of new members. So she promised to attend Tuesday’s function at KICC,” Ford-K secretary-general Eseli Simiyu said.

The team comprised Cabinet ministers Dalmas Otieno, James Orengo, Musa Sirma and Paul Otuoma (ODM), Mutula Kilonzo, MPs Johnstone Muthama, Gideon Ndambuki and former MP Nyiva Mwendwa (Wiper) and Dr Simiyu (Ford-K).

She then accompanied the team to Serena Hotel where the agreement was shared with Mr Odinga, Mr Musyoka and Mr Wetang’ula.

Never showed up

Mrs Ngilu had been expected at the signing of the TNA coalition agreement with URP at the Jeevanjee Gardens on Monday afternoon, but never showed up. This forced the organisers of the event to re-design the agreement to remove the logo of Mrs Ngilu’s party, the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc).

From Serena, Mr Odinga, Mr Musyoka and Mr Wetang’ula and members of the technical team drove straight to the KICC, but Ms Ngilu remained behind, finally making her entry to the event just before it kicked off, to wild applause from the multitude that had braved light showers to witness the ceremony.

It was not lost to observers that the event’s organisers had not anticipated Ms Ngilu’s presence and had to hurriedly change the sitting arrangement at the dais with ODM chairman Henry Kosgey giving up his seat for her.

On Wednesday, UDF national executive committee met and resolved to support the union with TNA and URP.

Meanwhile, Mr Wamalwa was being pursued by both the Uhuru-Ruto axis and Raila-Kalonzo camps.

“There were offers from the two groups, but we decided as a party that I should go to the ballot box,” he said.

What he did not say was that the TNA-URP group dispatched Internal Security Minister Katoo ole Metito to keep him busy until the deal with Mr Mudavadi was signed.

Mr Metito’s vigil was also to ensure that the Raila-Kalonzo camp does not lure him to their group.

- Daily Nation

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