By Vitalis Kimutai
NAIROBI; KENYA: Teams fine-tuning an alliance and pre-election power between Mr Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr William Ruto have failed to agree on where their parties will not field candidates for the other’s sake.
The fresh tussle held on even as the United Republican Party and The National Alliance, who have just lost Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa, prepared to sign the deal on Tuesday next week. Insider sources reveal URP has been given the Deputy President position in the alliance, the Leader of the Majority and one of the Senate’s Speaker position while TNA has the Presidency and Parliamentary Speaker.
It is not clear yet what Water minister Charity Ngilu will be getting under the alliance. The ministerial, ambassadorial and Cabinet secretaries positions will be shared on a 50-50 basis, sources familiar with the talks reveal. “URP will be getting a huge chunk of the key positions for the simple reason that Ruto has agreed to give up his presidential ambitions and become Uhuru’s running mate,” revealed Emgwen MP Elijah Lagat.
The party is now struggling to calm internal tensions set off by disagreements over whether TNA should field candidates in select Counties in Rift Valley when URP has agreed to stay out of Central Kenya.
The tug of war progressed as it became clearer the Eldoret North MP who is facing serious crimes against humanity charges at The Hague together with Uhuru would be the running mate and the Gatundu South MP the presidential candidate.
Ruto was last evening set to host MPs at his Karen home in Nairobi to brief them on the progress of the pre-election deal. “Ruto will be meeting MPs tonight at his home where the pre-election deal will be discussed and alternatives explored ahead of the signing of the deal on December 4, by the two parties,” an MP close to Ruto told The Standard on Monday evening.
A follow-up meeting by the MPs will also be held at the Eldoret North MP’s home this weekend ahead of the signing of the deal next week.
“Let us deposit the pre-election agreement at the office of Registrar of Political Parties at the last minute instead of rushing to sign it and lock out others in the process,” said Mosop MP David Koech.
The deal, sources revealed, is almost ready, but teams on both sides want several issues ironed out before then. While both sides agree that Central Province is to be left to TNA, the Rift Valley is proving to be the most difficult to decide on in the attempt by the parties to form an alliance that would not fight within itself over specific party blocs where each claims to have unrivalled control.
There is also broad agreement between the parties that North Rift will be left to URP. However, the cosmopolitan Nakuru and Kajiado, also in the Rift Valley, are bones of contention.
Those who spoke to The Standard said most MPs are opposed to the zoning of regions fearing it would divide the coalition and create an opening for rival parties to pull the rug from under the feet of the alliance, as those who would be locked out are likely to vote for other in protest.
“Even as zoning is being discussed TNA is laying claim to Nakuru and Kajiado Counties which traditionally are seen as URP regions as they fall under Rift Valley,” said a Cabinet minister involved in the talks.
“What will the alliance do with the larger Meru region which though it falls under Mount Kenya region gravitates towards URP instead of TNA?” asked the minister.
Naivasha MP John Mututho (Kanu) argued it was important the alliance’s members remain united until after the next General Election. “Leaders should not be driven by greed for the Presidency. Let the members use statistical formula and will of the people in the power sharing deal,” advised Mututho.
He said the proposed zoning of regions by TNA and URP should not be embraced because it would bring conflict among the members. “What should happen is for us to go to elections after which sharing of key government positions would be based on the performance of parties at the ballot,” Mututho said.
Uhuru and Ruto reportedly met the negotiators in Nairobi to discuss the unfolding scenario.
Details on why Wamalwa quit URP-TNA alliance also emerged even as URP was said to be trying to woo Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka back into G7 Alliance.
On Wamalwa, sources said he had decided to quit Uhuru and Ruto alliance after the two declined to heed his demands. The sources said TNA and URP had already shared out seats and only told Wamalwa to be patient and agree to take what he would be given. Ruto is said to have argued that since he had ceded the presidency, his side would also take the slots for Majority Leader and that of the Senate Speaker as well as half the maximum of 22 Cabinet Secretary slots.
He is said to have argued TNA would then take the other seats for the National Assembly Speaker and half of the Cabinet.
The Ruto team is said to have argued both Wamalwa and Ngilu having come to the alliance through TNA should demand their slots from Uhuru, a move that seems to have angered the Justice Minister, prompting his walkout from the alliance.
“He (Wamalwa) demanded that he must be Uhuru’s running mate under the alliance and was not willing to take up the Speaker’s position which he had been offered,” said a member of the negotiating team.
However, Kalonzo has insisted he would not accept anything short of a ticket for the Presidency in the G7 Alliance and is finalising a pre-election pact with Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi.
Kalonzo on Monday met Wamalwa at his Karen residence to deliberate on a possible inclusion in the alliance with Mudavadi.
“Ngilu will be given a position on her own in the alliance, but the announcement would not be made public until the morning of the deadline,” said another source.
“Wamalwa has simply chosen to cut the same hand that has all along fed him,” claimed Cheranganyi MP Joshua Kuttuny.
But Nominated MP Rachel Shebesh said: “I do not think Wamalwa will leave the G7 alliance because that is where he belongs and where he gets acceptance, and already he had been offered a position that he would not get anywhere else.”
Kieni MP Nemesyus Warugongo said that Wamalwa should reconsider his stand and rejoin the TNA-URP alliance because he cannot make much impact on his own.
Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo argued: “We are fully behind the alliance which brings together youthful, vibrant and visionary leaders with a clear mission to unite Kenyans and turn around the economy,” Kilonzo said.
Konoin MP Dr Julius Kones said URP-TNA deal was rushed and Ruto had not consulted members of his Kalenjin community.
Former Moi University law lecturer, Mr Kipchumba Murkomen is leading the URP team of experts crafting the deal, while the TNA team includes the party’s Secretary General, Mr Onyango Oloo.
“The agreement will not be signed until next week because we are keen on accommodating others willing to come on board,” said a source involved in the negotiations.
— Additional reporting by Martin Mutua