Thursday, September 4, 2008



September 5, 2008

By Standard Team

The post-Kibaki alliances started taking shape, on a day coalition partner ODM readied for its own defining meeting this weekend.

On Thursday, the 2012 succession battle lines were drawn when two ministers ditched Narc-Kenya for President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) ahead of its member recruitment later this month.

Cabinet ministers Beth Mugo and George Saitoti, as well as city MPs Ferdinand Waititu (Embakasi) and Simon Mbugua (Kamukunji) said they were joining PNU to prepare for elections.

This effectively drew the succession battle lines with the Narc-Kenya leader, Justice minister Martha Karua, who has vowed to expel such members from the party.

Back at ODM, rebel MPs were preparing for the Sunday party meeting to be chaired by Prime Minister Raila Odinga in Naivasha, where they will demand the dissolution of the Pentagon.

The party is also expected to approve a new leadership structure, with Party Leader as the top-most position in its ranks.

Ababu Namwamba, Beth Mugo, Martha Karua, Prof George Saitoti,

"If one declares that he wants to be a presidential candidate, that is the only qualification to become a Pentagon member. If Pentagon has to exist, then we must have a criteria on who should be in it and this has to be in the party constitution," said Mr Ababu Namwamba, the Budalang’i MP on Thursday.

The Pentagon members are Raila, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Cabinet ministers Charity Ngilu, Joseph Nyagah, William Ruto and Najib Balala.

Back in Nairobi, Mugo said the Narc Kenya branch had joined PNU and would take part in the recruitment drive.

"To ensure we rally our supporters on the ground, we have set up an interim structure that will help coordinate the recruitment drive and grassroots elections," said Waititu.

Saitoti, who is Internal Security minister and Kajiado North MP, asked MPs who joined PNU through its affiliate parties — Narc-K, Democratic Party, Ford Kenya and Kanu — to participate in the coming party recruitment.

Two camps are already jostling for vantage position ahead of the end of President Kibaki’s second and final term in 2012.

Kanu’s Chairman Uhuru Kenyatta, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, is just not yet ready to jump ship and play second fiddle to anyone in PNU.

It is understood that Kanu is meeting next Tuesday to address the issue of such members.

The Deputy Prime Minister is caught in a dilemma over what to do over two parties — the 40-year-old Kanu and the resurgent PNU.

"Uhuru is very much aware of the Kanu dilemma. He has to go through a process. The situation is getting a bit desperate with the time ticking away before the Political Parties Act becomes fully operational at the end of the year," said a source.

Uhuru is said to be pushing some of close his allies to take up strategic positions within PNU.

He is also said to be warming up to Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka in an attempt to secure the Eastern Province vote come the next General Election.

Risk losing their seats

It’s now emerging that Saitoti’s camp oscillates around Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi and Nominated MP George Nyamweya.

"We need to have one solid party capable of uniting the people of Kenya, let leaders from member parties lead their supporters to PNU," Saitoti said.

Saitoti hopes to control the Rift Valley and get support from the Eastern block through Kiraitu Murungi.

On Thursday, PNU affiliates warned Cabinet ministers and MPs that they risk losing their seats if they take part in the PNU recruitment drive.

In the latest move to block it from rolling out to the grassroots recruitment, several affiliates have reminded their MPs on the provisions of the Political Party’s Act.

Safina leader and former Kabete MP Paul Muite said should any of its MPs take part in the PNU drive, they would be presumed to have defected.

The new law states that if an MP elected on a certain party’s ticket associates with another one, he or she will be deemed to have defected and will lose the parliamentary seat.

He said Safina is not a corporate but a coalition member of PNU and therefore could not take part in its (PNU) internal activities such as recruitment.

Narc Kenya through its chairperson Karua has already issued the warning to its members that they would be deregistered should they take part in the PNU recruitment.

Mugo, who holds the Public Health docket, is the Narc-Kenya treasurer where she has been an active member.

PNU spokesman George Nyamweya, however, defended the rebels, describing the threats by Karua and other affiliates as empty.

He said MPs elected on PNU tickets had nothing to fear, as they were admitted to the party as individual members alongside President Kibaki when they allowed to contest the 2007 elections.

Nyamweya said only individuals like Medical Services Assistant minister Mr Danson Mungatana, elected on a Narc-Kenya ticket, should be worried.

Kanu’s Igembe South MP Mr Mithika Linturi said he would not participate in the recruitment, as he was not a PNU member.

He said the party had called a meeting next Tuesday to discuss the party’s position.

Four other PNU affiliates, namely Narc-Kenya, Democratic Party of Kenya (DP), Ford-Kenya and Shirikisho have also called meetings for next Wednesday to discuss their position on the recruitment drive.

They have vowed to block the proposed recruitment drive saying they were not consulted when the party’s constitution was changed to allow for individual membership.

Narc Kenya and DP have written to the Registrar of Political Parties seeking to block the registration of the new PNU constitution and is waiting for response.