Raila’s 2017 coali­tion will play out af­ter the poll day. The ap­pear­ance of dis­unity in the op­po­si­tion is ac­tu­ally part of the strat­egy. It is an­chored on the pos­si­bil­ity of a run-off

The Star (Kenya) - - Voices -

Otto von Bis­marck once said, “Never be­lieve any­thing in pol­i­tics un­til it has been of­fi­cially de­nied.” Last week, Mom­basa Gov­er­nor Has­san Joho de­nied he will be ODM leader Raila Odinga’s run­ning mate in 2017. We can, there­fore, con­firm that, in­deed, Joho will be Raila’s run­ning mate. Let us now move on to a more im­por­tant mat­ter: Raila’s 2017 coali­tion strat­egy. Ev­ery po­lit­i­cal cy­cle brings forth fresh coali­tion for­ma­tions, also known as merg­ers. Whether their for­ma­tion is driven by des­per­a­tion, cal­cu­lated strat­egy or co­er­cion, the goal is to form gov­ern­ment. But only re­cently has the Kenyan po­lit­i­cal class got the hang of proper coali­tion for­ma­tion. Prior to the 2002 ‘Eureka Mo­ment’ where Narc was born, the op­po­si­tion was a dis­or­gan­ised and feud­ing lot that al­lowed Pres­i­dent Daniel Moi to sur­vive two multi-party elec­tions.

Since then, the per­ma­nent po­lit­i­cal in­ten­tion is to cal­cu­late how many Kenyans can be herded into eth­nic boxes, specif­i­cally for vot­ing pur­poses and then to form al­liances ac­cord­ingly.

The gen­e­sis of merg­ers was in 1964, when Kanu swal­lowed Kadu. That ar­range­ment, how­ever, was more of a hos­tile takeover. The merger had no im­me­di­ate elec­toral pur­pose. It’s sole mo­tive was to ‘tame’ per­ceived and ac­tual dis­si­dents.

An­other his­tor­i­cal merger worth not­ing is the short-lived Kanu-LDP union in 2002, which saw the sac­ri­fice of two Kanu loy­al­ists, Joseph Kamotho and Ge­orge Saitoti, by Moi all for the po­ten­tial 600,000 votes that Raila Odinga was sure to rope in.

In this 2017 elec­toral cy­cle, coali­tion for­ma­tion will take on new dimensions. This is be­cause the in­cum­bent Ju­bilee has con­sol­i­dated and dis­played its might. They are at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity demon­strat­ing nu­mer­i­cal and re­source strength. At the same time, Cord is crum­bling. Their eth­nic arith­metic is re­fus­ing to add up.

This is why Raila is craft­ing a new mode of coali­tion for­ma­tion. Tra­di­tion­ally, coali­tions re­quire three things.

First, that it en­dorses a sin­gle fron­trun­ner. Sec­ond, that it is multi-eth­nic, or a cros­seth­nic force that gets to­gether to beat the rul­ing hege­mony and third, that it is formed be­fore the elec­tion.

Raila’s 2017 coali­tion will de­part from the last rule and play out af­ter Elec­tion Day. It’s for­ma­tion, how­ever, will very qui­etly pre­cede it. In short, the ap­pear­ance of dis­unity in the op­po­si­tion is ac­tu­ally part of the strat­egy.

The post-poll coali­tion strat­egy is an­chored on the pos­si­bil­ity of a run-off. The in­ten­tion is to come to­gether af­ter the Ju­bilee Party fails to clinch the 50+1con­sti­tu­tional re­quire­ment. Bril­liant plan.

In a run –off, the win­ner of the first round never sur­vives the sec­ond round, be­cause all the run­ners up will con­sol­i­date their votes. In ex­e­cut­ing this strat­egy, there is only one statu­tory con­sid­er­a­tion that Raila must make: It is about his run­ning mate. The Po­lit­i­cal Par­ties Act stip­u­lates that when coali­tions make in­ter­nal power shar­ing plans, the ar­range­ments must be de­posited with the Regis­trar of Po­lit­i­cal Par­ties within stip­u­lated time­lines. So if Raila fronts Joho as his run­ning mate, but with the se­cret in­ten­tion of later form­ing a run-off coali­tion with ei­ther We­tang’ula or Kalonzo or both, he can­not ditch Joho in a whim. Un­less of course they will have a pre-de­ter­mined agree­ment, where Joho re­signs or steps down for an­other run­ning mate who will bring in their re­gional votes. Even then, Raila must bear the pos­si­bil­ity of be­trayal, that is, if Joho re­fuses to step down, his plan goes to the dogs. My ad­vice to him would be to get Joho to sign an un­dated res­ig­na­tion let­ter be­fore sub­mit­ting the coali­tion ar­range­ments. The risky thing about the en­tire run-off coali­tion is that there is a lot that is sub­ject to ju­di­cial in­ter­pre­ta­tion as re­gards time­lines.

And the last place Raila would like to find him­self is at the hands of the ju­di­ciary once again de­ter­min­ing his elec­toral fu­ture.


DAISY MARITIM MAINA Po­lit­i­cal econ­o­mist

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