We­tang’ula de­nies he is leav­ing Cord

Co-prin­ci­pal says he is a found­ing mem­ber of the coali­tion and those claim­ing he is on his way out are en­gaged in ‘idle talk’.

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - BY STAR RE­PORTER @TheS­tarKenya

Ford Kenya leader Moses We­tang’ula yes­ter­day de­nied he was plan­ning to bolt from Cord and split the op­po­si­tion, if he doesn’t get the pres­i­den­tial ticket.

But he has re­peat­edly — and again on Sun­day — called on Cord and ODM leader Raila Odinga to step aside and back him.

The Se­nate mi­nor­ity leader on Sun­day likened Raila to an ster­ile man un­able to im­preg­nate a wife — re­fer­ring to the for­mer Prime Min­is­ter’s three failed stabs at the pres­i­dency.

This is not unity talk. Raila main­tains pub­licly, how­ever, that Cord is in­tact.

If We­tang’ula did walk out, that would di­vide the Luhya vote and sub­stan­tially di­min­ish Raila’s chances of un­seat­ing Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta.

And the Bungoma se­na­tor has bought a new chop­per branded in Ford-K colours of green and white, in­ter­preted as a sign he could be build­ing his arse­nal and mount­ing his own bid for the top job.

In re­sponse to ques­tions from the Star, We­tang’ula told off those claim­ing he was about to exit the di­vided op­po­si­tion that is strain­ing at the seams. He was a found­ing mem­ber of Cord and was in for the long haul, he said.

“We founded Cord. None of the three of us [co-prin­ci­pals] is an in­vi­tee. How do I leave a house I built?” We­tang’ula asked.

Mul­ti­ple ODM sources in­ter­viewed by the Star ac­cuse We­tang’ula of be­ing bankrolled by the Ju­bilee Party and bid­ing his time be­fore jump­ing ship.

“We are aware he is funded by Ju­bilee. We­tangu’la will go it alone like [Simeon] Ny­achae did in 2002,” one source said.

Yes­ter­day, We­tang’ula dis­missed the Ju­bilee-traitor claim as idle talk.

The Ford Kenya exit ac­cu­sa­tions emerged af­ter a week­end of high drama — Wiper threat­ened to leave the coali­tion and We­tang’ula again rub­bished Raila’s fourth stab at the pres­i­dency.

On Satur­day, a host of Raila’s al­lies pub­licly pro­posed Mom­basa Gover­nor Ali Has­san Joho as his run­ning mate in 2017.

Wiper boss Kalonzo Musyoka and his troops were fu­ri­ous.

“Our coali­tion part­ners went on a pop­u­lar­i­sa­tion tour and they made all sorts of re­marks and dec­la­ra­tions. All kinds of con­de­scend­ing re­marks... Hon Raila de­clared he is pre­pared to go it alone,” Wiper sec­re­tary gen­eral Has­san Omar said.

“So we de­cided to also em­bark on a pop­u­lar­i­sa­tion tour and once we de­cided, un­for­tu­nately, our col­leagues took of­fence.”

The se­na­tor’s PA Mandu Mandu con­firmed the new chop­per is We­tang’ula’s.

“The party and its leader are de­ter­mined. We want to cre­ate some space, move up and down as we ap­peal for sup­port ahead of the coali­tion nom­i­na­tion for Pres­i­dent,” Mandu said.

Ford Kenya sec­re­tary gen­eral Eseli Simiyu strongly de­nied Ju­bilee was fund­ing the party to split the coali­tion.

“Those are the usual al­le­ga­tions of ODM die-hards,” he said. We­tang’ula’s calls for Raila to hang up his boots have “sort of rubbed them the wrong way and they are over­re­act­ing,” Eseli told the Star yes­ter­day.

Speak­ing in Narok on Sun­day, We­tang’ula again asked Raila, 71, to shelve his pres­i­den­tial am­bi­tions, be a king­maker and back him and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka.

“He is our old man. We are not dis­re­spect­ing him. We are telling him, please, old man, now you have worked. You have your re­spect. You will have a spe­cial place in the Cord gov­ern­ment. But be the king­maker,” We­tangu’la said.

These threats and de­mands by af­fil­i­ate par­ties an­gered ODM and di­rec­tor of com­mu­ta­tions ;and sup­port­ers with ODM Di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions Phillip Etale called We­tang’ula’s com­ments “im­ma­ture”.

“Urg­ing Raila to re­tire from pol­i­tics by some­one call­ing him­self a co-prin­ci­pal in Cord is it­self a sign of cow­ardice and im­ma­tu­rity in pol­i­tics,” Etale said in an emo­tional post on Face­book.

ODM Trea­surer Ti­mothy Bosire also faulted Wiper and Ford Kenya, say­ing they fired mis­siles at their com­mon house, in­stead of their com­mon en­emy, Ju­bilee.

“They should not waste en­ergy di­rect­ing their mis­siles in­wards,” Bosire said.

On Sun­day, Wiper ap­peared to rule

out any pos­si­bil­ity of Kalonzo miss­ing the 2017 bal­lot and de­manded Cord name its flag­bearer by Christ­mas. Jan­uary is the tar­get date, how­ever. Se­na­tor Omar re­called the ac­ri­mony be­tween Kalonzo and the Ju­bilee duo — Keny­atta and William Ruto in 2012 — em­pha­sis­ing why the thorny is­sue of pres­i­den­tial flag­bearer must be sorted well in ad­vance.

“I am ask­ing col­leagues to be care­ful with our tongues,” Kalonzo warned. “I will con­tinue work­ing with any­one who as­sures me that I, Kalonzo, will not con­tinue stand­ing where I am in the op­po­si­tion.”

How­ever, both Omar and Eseli warned Uhuru will trounce the trio should they part ways.

“We are try­ing to en­sure the coali­tion stands. Be­cause if it doesn’t, then they would have given Ju­bilee an ear- ly Christ­mas,” Eseli said.

Kalonzo has asked Omar and Wiper trea­surer Hezron Awiti to unite in re­mov­ing Mom­basa Gover­nor Joho.

Joho, called ODM’s “su­per­man”, is a close Raila con­fi­dant and any at­tack on him is an at­tack on Raila and the Orange Party.

De­spite Raila’s talk of Cord unity, Kalonzo said much as he val­ues unity, he has sac­ri­ficed more than any other co-prin­ci­pal and should be the stan­dard bearer.

“I sac­ri­ficed for Mwai Kibaki, sac­ri­ficed for Raila Odinga and sac­ri­ficed for this na­tion. Who else can I sacri­fice for? I must be on level higher than I am now af­ter 2017,” he said.

Raila has been criss­cross­ing the coun­try, con­sol­i­dat­ing his bases in huge po­lit­i­cal ral­lies. Mean­time, his part­ners are plot­ting their own strate­gies.

/ KIPLANG’AT KIRUI

Ford-K leader Moses We­tang’ula with the Narok county party chair­man Dick­son Ntanyai in Narok town over the week­end

/ MONICAH MWANGI

Cord leader Raila Odinga with Ford Kenya leader and Cord co­prin­ci­pal Moses We­tang’ula dur­ing Cord Madaraka Day rally in Uhuru Park on June 1

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