By EMMAN OMARI firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted Saturday, October 22 2011 at 21:32
Posted Saturday, October 22 2011 at 21:32
Is it for real that deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi will seek the Orange Democratic Movement party ticket to run for the presidency in 2012?
If so, Mr Mudavadi will be running against Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the ODM leader who in 2007 missed the presidency by a whisker.
Could this also be part of the bigger dilemma facing Mr Odinga and Mr Mudavadi on what to do without losing ODM regional support as the clock ticks away towards an election year?
Still, there are those who question the seriousness behind Mr Mudavadi’s announcement, wondering whether this scenario would be the enactment of another Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin style of swapping posts at the next election.
Then math, math and more math. The unfolding new political dispensation under the new Constitution requires every leader to reflect national balance in every act and deed.
These are the mixed feelings many are having following Mr Mudavadi’s surprise announcement that he will challenge Mr Odinga for the ODM ticket.
“Forget it! Let him move out of ODM if he is serious. It is like telling me you would have defeated President Moi for the party ticket during the Kanu days,” says his perennial arch-rival, Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo.
Yet there are those who think Mr Mudavadi’s announcement should be taken seriously.
Gender Affairs assistant minister Manyala Keya and Shinyalu MP Justus Kizito are excited that Mr Mudavadi has thrown his hat in the ring.
The two MPs from Western challenged Mr Jirongo and Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa to drop their presidential ambitions and support, Mr Mudavadi, the seniormost politician from the region.
Mr Jirongo and Mr Wamalwa maintain they are still in the race and only a final nomination of Mr Mudavadi by ODM would stop them.
“This is just another ploy . . . It is the same trick they used prior to last elections to hoodwink people that there is democracy in ODM,” said Mr Jirongo.
Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale is cautious, advising Luhya politicians and the community to hold their horses.
“This is another one of Raila’s political machinations. We can only rally behind our man (Mr Mudavadi) if he is bold enough to move out of ODM and seek the presidency on another ticket,” he says.
However, Mr Mudavadi defended his position arguing that moving out of ODM would further fragment the party and fall in the trap of ethnicity.
“I will go for the party’s nomination to vie for the presidency. It is upon the delegates to make that decision,” he said.
His critics see the move as an act of desperation given that the current political arrangement is tilted against Mr Mudavadi.
Prior to the 2007 elections, Mr Odinga had the Kalenjin vote sewn when Eldoret North MP William Ruto was solidly behind him.
It was easy for Mr Odinga to pronounce Mr Mudavadi the deputy leader from Kasarani Sports Complex without rocking the boat.
But now that he has parted ways with Mr Ruto, the Premier must be burning the mid-night oil in search of a running mate who brings something tangible on the table.
Yet Mr Mudavadi’s supporters argue that should his bid for the party ticket fail and Mr Odinga does not repeat what he did in Kasarani, the Luhya community will ditch him at the polls.
But others argue that if that were to happen, it would be the Maragoli who would not vote for Mr Odinga and not the entire community.
Then, there is the argument that Mr Odinga and Mr Mudavadi are seen by the rest of Kenyans as coming from the same western Kenya region.
It is, therefore, expected that an ODM presidential candidate would be forced to look elsewhere for a running mate.
In Nigeria, for instance, it is an established tradition that if a President comes from the South, his deputy must be from the North and vice versa.
Here is where any decision in the direction of the Medvedev-Putin formula would be unlikely to endear other Kenyans.
But there are other Mudavadi supporters who are quick to shoot down this perception.
They argue that the PNU presidential candidate Mwai Kibaki from Central picked Mr Kalonzo Musyoka as vice-president only a stone’s throw away in Eastern.
They argue that when Mr Moi was president, Internal Security minister George Saitoti was his VP both coming from Rift Valley and the issue of one region was never raised.
This group also argues that Mr Odinga has always represented a Nairobi constituency though born in Nyanza, which neighbours Mr Mudavadi’s Western.
Mr Mudavadi dismisses the Medvedev-Putin theory saying that the party accommodates all who subscribe to democratic principles.
“It is my right to seek the party’s nomination, people reading mischief in my decision want to confine us into ethnic paddocks,” he says.
Whether or not Mr Mudavadi considers his as an uphill task to dislodge Mr Odinga, the critics will be waiting to see if he mounts a national campaign in the coming months to sell his candidacy.