With a little over four months to go before Kenya’s presidential election, it seems the main opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM-Kenya) party is having a difficult time finding a united voice. The issue is, who is best suited to be the party’s presidential candidate to face incumbent Mwai Kibaki. In the process, the ODM-Kenya presidential aspirants are forming alliances within the alliance.
The latest alliance within the alliance was formed by Kalonzo Musyoka. His chief rival, Raila Odinga called the move a defection. In the meantime, the government has put the party on notice to sort out the confusion within 30 days or face the prospect of de-registration.
Musyoka told VOA he did not defect from the original ODM-Kenya.
“There are three founding parties of ODM. The parties are KANU, which is the party of independence, then there’s the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) where I’m a founding member, and then there’s the Labor Party of Kenya. And so all I’ve done is to shift from LDP, Liberal Democratic Party to Labor Party of Kenya but within ODM,” he said.
Musyoka said he formed the new alliance to position the ODM-Kenya to do battle with incumbent president Kibaki during the December elections.
“First of all, the LDP was like moribund, and because I firmly believe that ODM should be a coalition, I moved in to strengthen the Labor Party so that together with KANU and LDP, we will then have a strong coalition which will then operate under the ODM-Kenya umbrella,” Musyoka said.
ODM-Kenya registered as a coalition of parties. Musyoka said his new alliance should have no bearing on the original ODM-Kenya registration.
“That is the matter that the founding parties can very easily resolve. If they resolve that it is a coalition, then they will operate as such so that the three parties can, for instance, field separate parliamentary candidates, but they can all end up with one presidential candidate, and that is my objective,” he said.
Because of the seeming confusion, the government has reportedly given ODM-Kenya 30 days to sort out its problems or face the prospect of deregistration.
Musyoka said he is not concerned about the government’s threat of deregistering the party.
“I’m not concerned because the registrar cannot do any such thing. He has not been able to really deregister any political party. So that is an empty threat, I can assure you,” Musyoka said.
Musyoka dismissed accusations by some within ODM-Kenya who said that by his actions, he was doing the bidding for President Kibaki by causing division within ODM-Kenya.
“That is coming from only one of my colleagues (Raila Odinga), and he knows very well that the current president would prefer meeting with him at the polls and not me. So people know the truth, and I can you that the action I have taken is absolutely popular. A lot of people are wondering why I have not taken action before. We were not able within ODM-Kenya as presently constituted to agree either through consensus or delegates on which one of us is going to be the flag bearer. But now we will be able to sit as equals and agree or go to the delegates together. Anybody trying to allege that I am doing anybody’s bidding knows very well that to themselves they are big liars,” he said.
Musyoka reiterated that he did not defect from ODM-Kenya. In fact, he said he is still the frontrunner for ODM-Kenya presidential nomination.
He also said the confusion within ODM-Kenya does not play into the hands of incumbent President Kibaki.
“I don’t think it does. It’s very good for democracy because you are likely to see serious realignment within the political class because of the decision we have taken. We are very proud of it, and Kenyans are standing with us, and even Kibaki himself I think feels threatened,” Musyoka said.