By Standard Team
Mr Kalonzo Musyoka gave a taste of the looming battle for the control of ODM-Kenya when he criticised the media, claiming it was giving Lang’ata MP Raila Odinga undue mileage.
Speaking just a day after his fellow contender for the new party’s ticket in next year’s election launched a campaign website, the Mwingi North MP also spoke with bitterness over what he called the media’s continued portrayal of Raila as ODM-Kenya’s de facto leader.
"ODM-Kenya is yet to agree on its official leader and you in the media should please give us time to sort ourselves out," Musyoka said.
With the statement Kalonzo joined the list of politicians uncomfortable with Raila’s dominant political image, particularly at public appearances.
He added: "Every time Raila is referred (by the media) as the de facto leader of any political organisation he joins, even when he has not been given the mandate by the people."
The statement could be viewed in the new party, which hopes to unite Kanu and the Liberal Democratic Party to face Narc-Kenya next year, as yet another pointer to the perceived cold war running between the two politicians.
Kalonzo appeared incensed by the media attention Raila got at the Lukenya meeting and cited cases where media houses made references and portrayed the meeting as ‘Raila-led’.
"The media had a huge image of Raila and Uhuru with others, including me in small picture bringing out contradicting political statements," he said.
Both Raila and Kalonzo have lately emerged as two leaders with national appeal having consolidated their ‘home’ support. They are both under pressure from their political enclaves to run.
It is this pressure that appears to be building up even before ODM-Kenya consolidates. Ever since he launched his biography, Raila has had extensive analysis of his political life and appeared to have increased the tempo after the launch of his campaign website, wrong-footing his opponents. It is this coverage that appears to have goaded Kalonzo, to turn his guns on the media.
While Raila has openly declared that he will run for president in the General Election, due next year, Kalonzo has been critical of his comrades in LDP who have so far started campaigning, though he is on the campaign trail too. But his supporters believe he’ll formally join the race in November, when he hopes to make what he has described as a "major announcement".
Kalonzo yesterday warned of "rifts… if the media and other politicians continued to refer to my friend Raila as its de facto leader."
The Raila and Kalonzo camp have always been at loggerheads, though they are glued together by the desire to revenge on their former Narc (now Narc-Kenya) allies who threw out the contentious pre-election power-sharing pact.
Raila and Kalonzo, in national politics, had also been brought together by political fate: the anger over the nomination of Uhuru Kenyatta as the Kanu presidential candidate after former President Moi refused to allow popular suffrage within Kanu.
While the two are friends – in the political sense – Kalonzo’s criticism will not be taken lightly given that he did it in Nyanza Province, but at Ford-People’s stronghold, Nyaribari Chache constituency, where he was attending a funeral.
Why Kalonzo made the remarks there is instructive and he left no doubt that the Lukenya Declaration that brought together the ODM-Kenya leaders together to share power was still having problems or would be expanded.
Said Kalonzo: "The Lukenya Declaration on power sharing within ODM-Kenya was not final. More consultation would be held to ensure all Kenyans were accommodated."
Of late ODM-Kenya has been facing harsh criticism and on Thursday, former President Moi warned Kanu members against leaving their party to join the new outfit.
Kalonzo said ODM-Kenya was a political ideology to unite Kenyans from different political affiliations for a common cause and to end tribal based parties, an effort beyond an individual.
Kalonzo’s main worry appeared to be the complication a popular Raila portends for his candidature. Or what it would mean to him were Raila to remain the point of reference in ODM-Kenya.
It is not clear whether Kalonzo is feeling isolated in the ODM-Kenya ranks, or that he is not getting the attention he desires. He was however quick to say that ODM-Kenya had not agreed on who was its official spokesman.
In an apparent response to retired President Moi’s opposition to Kanu’s working relationship with ODM-Kenya, Kalonzo said: "I was once in the innercore of the party as an organising secretary and I share the pain they undergo on hearing that their party was to be dissolved."
But he said there was need for Kanu leaders to let the party evolve with the current political situation. "Like it happened in Tanzania where Tanu transformed itself into Chama cha Mapinduzi, Kanu should be allowed to evolve through ODM-Kenya with its main objective being a shareholder in national leadership."
With the temperatures rising in ODM Kalonzo said he would seek out Kanu’s hardliners and convince them to support the party.
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