Opposition chiefs have for the first time pledged publicly remain united in a strategic effort to unset President Uhuru Kenyatta.
They announced they would have a single flagbearer, however, they did not launch the National Super Alliance, which is expected to take off early this year.
The clock is ticking down to the August general election, just seven months away.
In an historic unity bid reminiscent of the 2002 Narc accord, about 5,000 opposition supporters, including aspirants, thronged the Bomas of Kenya yesterday and promised to make Uhuru a one-term head of state.
In a move that surprised some members but not analysts, the leaders shelved plans for street protests against the controversial electoral laws — until after the month-long voter registration starting next Monday.
\Analysts say the opposition could not risk the violence and bad press of violent protests, especially since it would conflict with voter registrations.
ODM Leader Raila Odinga, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula led the meeting, amid anxiety about which of them will fly the opposition presidential standard.
At least five major opposition parties attended, but Kalonzo announced that a record 15 political outfits were represented.
And for the first time, the four leaders’ lieutenants warned their bosses against ruining unity for “selfish” personal ambition.
The warning shots were fired by Kakamega Senator Bony Khalwale, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama.
In fact, Muthama pledged that they will publicly name and shame any “betrayer” derailing opposition unity. He said Kenyans will never forgive the four if they separate.
“What do we gain if we all say that we have to be on the ballot?” asked political economist David Ndii, who gave a presentation about Kenya’s “deteriorating economy”.
The opposition is under pressure to name its single candidate to face off with the mammoth Jubilee Party, as the clock ticks down to the showdown.
“I have sacrificed before and I am ready to sacrifice again,” declared Kalonzo, sending the gathering into frenzy of cheers and applause.
Musalia, champion of National Super Alliance, cautioned against infighting and urged leaders to be open to an expanded coalition.
“Let this [unity] be a serious issue.I have been defending the National Super Alliance not because I don’t respect the existing Coalition but because my eyes are open,” he said.
Throughout the meeting, Raila’s presence loomed large.
The former Prime Minister and veteran of many battles was the last to speak, signifying his seniority.
His think tank members, including Ndii and ODM East African Legislative Assembly member Abubakar Zein, were among the three think tanks to make presentations.
And stung by criticism that their supporters never turn out to register as voters and to actually vote, the opposition is leaving nothing to chance.
Yesterday, opposition captains pleaded with thousands of aspirants to take charge of the voter registration process starting next week.
The IEBC aims to register more than six million new voters. They could tip the balance and create a new political scenario as Jubilee and NASA plot winning strategies.
In 2013, only 14.3 million voters were enlisted.
“We have to register and send the message that we have a critical mass. The election would be won before the last ballot is cast,” said Abubakar Zein from a think tank.
Raila said Kenyans should be afraid that Jubilee would, once again, rig the general election. He warned the Jubilee government that the consequences of rigged polls would be serious.
“We want Kenyans to discard the fear that Jubilee will steal the August elections. They will not. The cost of stealing the elections will be regrettable. Therefore, Jubilee should not try it,” Raila warned.
Apart from the Cord’s three affiliates — ODM, Wiper and Ford Kenya — also present at the Bomas were Musalia Mudavadi’s ANC, the Independence Party Kanu and Wavinya Ndeti’s CCU.
Conspicuously absent was Kanu chairman Gideon Moi, although secretary general Nick Salat insisted the independence party was fully in the opposition.
“As secretary general, let me announce that as Kanu we are in,” Salat said.
And in a move that could eventually lock out Jubilee from the vote-rich Western region, ANC leader Mudavadi and his Ford Kenya’s Wetang’ula agreed to bury the hatchet.
Raila praised the Western leaders for what he termed the Mulembe Declaration in which the leaders held hands and pledged to work together.
The naming of Mudavadi as the Luhya spokesman had rattled Wetang’ula and his allies who publicly said the ANC leader was a Jubilee project.
“If Mudavadi is seriously interested in teaming up with Cord, he should focus on the agenda and forget associating himself with [Cotu secretary general Francis] Atwoli who is engaged in political business,” Wetang’ula said on January 9.
The leaders accused Uhuru and his Deputy William Ruto of running down the country through massive corruption,
Yesterday, Wetang’ula narrated how the 2013 polls were rigged in favour of Jubilee, giving the examples of Tiati and Jomvu constituencies.
He claimed that in Tiati, Uhuru got a total 17,800 votes but IEBC declared 50,000 votes in their final tallying at Bomas.
Wetang’ula also said that in one poling station at Jomvu, Raila got 450 votes but IEBC later gave him only 22 votes.