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Kenya’s Opposition Presidential Candidate Calls for Dialogue

Kenya’s presidential candidate for the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM-Kenya) reportedly says his party is ready for dialogue with all interested parties ahead of this year’s December elections. Kalonzo Musyoka, who formerly served as foreign minister, said since the elections could be called anytime soon by incumbent President Mwai Kibaki, it would not be too late to have a dialogue among opposition parties in the country. But Musyoka cautioned that any form of discussion should be well structured and pragmatic.

Meanwhile, recent polls show incumbent President Kibaki leading, with 45 percent, followed by Raila Odinga of the splinter opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) with 25 percent, while Kalonzo Musyoka is at a distant third. From the capital Nairobi, Kalonzo Musyoka tells reporter Peter Clottey that his ODM-Kenya party is sure of winning this year’s presidential elections despite the polls.

“Having been given such an overwhelming mandate, I think it behooves me to be absolutely sensible and sensitive to the wishes and aspirations of the ODM-K members. So, I know that sections of the media are saying that we are open to dialogue. The only things I have actually said, having been a diplomat and I suppose once a diplomat always one, was that we should always have dialogue. But the way, I see this would only be possible after the elections because this country has a very bad history with the pre-election memoranda of understanding and coalition building,” Musyoka said.

He said the present political landscape calls for some form of alliance.

“So, I think that the future clearly seems to indicate that future governments would have to embrace coalition arrangements. And ODM-Kenya might probably want to look at that after we win the election, or in the likely event we lose the same election, we can also look at possible post-election coalition building,” he pointed out.

Musyoka denied he is to blame for the split in the opposition ODM-Kenya.

“I don’t see why anybody would accuse us of that because I promise that I would never leave ODM-Kenya. These other colleagues decamped and moved into a completely new political party. So if anybody was to achieve playing into the hands of the government, I think it can only probably be said that this is true of my colleagues. However, it is not time for any blame game. What is important is that we have won the nomination and we are set to defeat both of our colleagues formally in the ODM and President Kibaki at the December elections,” Musyoka said.

He said the opposition ODM-Kenya has a larger grass root support, contrary to speculation that it has lost support on the ground.

“Judging by what took place on Friday, we had the most democratic nomination, where ODM-Kenya brought together 4200 delegates at the famous Kasarani grounds. Would anybody consider that an empty shell?” he asked.