There were reports Sunday that two of the leading presidential aspirants in Kenya’s main opposition Orange Democratic (ODM-Kenya) party may be close to some agreement that could resolve the squabble over who should be the party’s nominee in the coming December elections.
According to the reports, the deal, if it becomes finalized, would make Raila Odinga the ODM-Kenya’s presidential nominee and Kalonzo Musyoka his vice president. So is Musyoka willing to step aside for Raila Odinga?
Musyoka told VOA that as far as he is concerned, he expects the other candidates to step aside for him.
“I don’t think that’s a relevant question at the moment. What we are doing is, we have set up the rules that will govern the nomination process, mainly through delegates, if we are unable to agree among ourselves. And because I’m one of the leading candidates, if anything, people expect the others to step aside for me because Kenyans know who is best placed to defeat the incumbent president,” he said.
Musyoka said he has already told incumbent President Mwai Kibaki that only he Musyoka can defeat the president in December.
“The other day when he visited my constituency, in a very firm and polite manner I was able to point out to him that he should brace himself for a democratic battle at the end of this year,” Musyoka said.
He said he was not aware of other presidential aspirants endorsing the candidacy of rival Raila Odinga.
“I don’t know any of them. In fact, if you are referring to (Najib) Balala, he has also read a statement saying he has not endorsed anybody. Although the initial plan was that he would encourage them to declare their candidature and at an appropriate time step down in his favor. So Kenyans know that this has been a game, and the serious candidate is very well known to Kenyans, and they are waiting for us to move on,” he said.
Musyoka brushed aside the suggestion that perhaps the only way to defeat incumbent President Kibaki is for the Kenyan opposition to present a single candidate.
“That is what we did in 2002 when we all came together and endorsed the current president, Mwai Kibaki. And he wasn’t even strong at that time. You remember when he was in the hospital and we were able to campaign for him after the unfortunate road accident. And so similar expectations are abound. But we also want to move this country a step ahead. We think that this country will be a beacon of hope in terms of democratic practice in Africa, and some of us are determined to make sure that we take the necessary hard decisions,” he said.
When reminded about the recent elections in Nigeria where the opposition there waited until the last hour before beginning talks about merging forces, Musyoka said Kenya is different from Nigeria.
“We will do our best. Kenya of course is quite different from Nigeria. One thing Kenyans will not accept is a flawed election. This is why we insist in the opposition on the very crucial need to have an independent electoral commission of Kenya, which has been so far doing very well. We’ve been insisting on minimal constitutional reforms in order to level the playing field so that there would be no possibility of the incumbent stealing the elections because Kenyans, unlike Nigerians may not accept a stolen election,” he said.
Musyoka said the fight for ODM-Kenya’s presidential nominee is not a popularity contest between rival Raila Odinga and him.
“It cannot be a popularity contest. It can only be based on the vision we have unveiled before our country. Clearly on my part I say we want a paradigm shift. We want a leadership that will restore integrity, a leadership that would have family values, and a leadership that can be trusted by Kenyans, and a leadership that would also bring a new constitutional dispensation which is what we promised Kenyans in 2002, and which this current government hasn’t been able to deliver,” Musyoka said.