Opposition leaders on Wednesday unveiled the much-touted National Super Alliance (Nasa) and vowed to stick together with the aim of removing Jubilee from power in the August 8 General Election.
The four – ODM’s Raila Odinga, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, Ford-Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula and ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi – signed a memorandum to seal the unity pact at a ceremony in Nairobi witnessed by more than 5,000 aspirants gathered in the Bomas of Kenya ballroom. The pact was also signed by Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat.
The meeting had initially been called by the Opposition chiefs to give the way forward on the controversial Election Laws (Amendment) Act, which was passed by the National Assembly and Senate last week and assented to by President Kenyatta on Monday. However, it was turned into a forum to cement the Opposition unity, with the leaders promising to invite more leaders.
Mr Mudavadi has been spearheading the push for the opposition leaders to unite under Nasa since late last year.
The leaders also used the meeting to rally their supporters to register in large numbers when the final voter registration drive commences on Monday. They also said they would suspend the planned street protests to mobilise their supporters into registering in large numbers.
“We are also here to emphasise that we are one Opposition team, with the common dream of liberating Kenyans from the yoke of Jubilee,” said Mr Odinga, while reading a statement that had been agreed on by all the Opposition chiefs.
“We are here to agree to stop Jubilee from ruining our country beyond August 2017. Defeating Jubilee in August is not about the Opposition taking power. It is a national duty and a civic responsibility to save Kenya”.
He cited joblessness among educated youth, high borrowing by the government and corruption as among the ills perpetuated by the Jubilee administration.
“We are here to make all of us understand that the only enemy we have and our country has, is Jubilee. Divided we shall fall and the country will continue to suffer. Only our unity shall salvage what remains of our country. We are here because we understand that simple and painful reality,” he said.
According to him, the meeting had not been convened to call for mass action to protest the recently-passed election law.
“That remains on our radar but not in the next 30 days,” he said.
The speeches were preceded by presentations by renowned economist David Ndii, a law lecturer, Prof Elisha Ongoya, and former Constitution of Kenya Review Commission commissioner Zein Abubakar, who all urged Opposition supporters to work together.
The meeting also saw Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula lead other leaders from western Kenya in declaring that they would work as a team with a view to locking Jubilee out of the vote-rich region. In the declaration, led by Senator George Khaniri, the leaders said urged voters in the region to “put all their eggs in one basket”.
Just before he read the prepared statement, Mr Odinga announced that leaders from western Kenya wanted to make a declaration before the gathering. He then invited Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula to lead their colleagues in declaring that they would work as a team. They were joined by MPs Yusuf Chanzu (Vihiga), and Paul Otuoma (Funyula), Senators George Khaniri (Vihiga), and Boni Khalwale (Kakamega) and former Nairobi Mayor George Aladwa.
From the very outset, it was evident that the gathering expected nothing short of a united opposition. Speaker after speaker implored the leaders to remain united.
Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho set the ball rolling, when he told the leader that they had no choice but to unite and remove Jubilee from power.
Turning to face the five on the dais, Mr Joho said to applause; “My dear brothers, you have no choice but to hold together”.
He said he was ready to die if that would ensure Jubilee was sent packing.
Dr Khalwale, too, stressed the need for the Opposition to remain united, saying that President Uhuru Kenyatta had hoped that he would lure Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula so as to split the western vote.
“Uhuru thought he would get my brother Wetang’ula and my brother Musalia but he has failed. Are they not with us here?” he posed.
Mr Mudavadi, who was the first of the four chiefs to address the gathering, urged his colleagues to unite behind Nasa.
“I have been there before. It is a long and narrow road but with unity, it will be wide and short,” he said to a thunderous applause.
Mr Musyoka electrified the crowd when he declared that he was ready to sacrifice his presidential ambition to ensure that the Opposition captures power.
“I have sacrificed before and I’m ready to sacrifice again. I also expect similar sacrifice from my brothers here,” he said. However, he also added that he expected similar selflessness from the other leaders.
He warned against any of the opposition chiefs betraying their colleagues and called for transparency in picking the movement’s presidential candidate.
Mr Wetang’ula also dwelt on the need for leaders to remain united.
“Each one of us here (referring to the opposition chiefs) is a first among equals. I will be happy if my brother Steve is named the candidate. I will also be happy if my brother Musalia is named the candidate or my brother Raila is named,” he said.
Mr Odinga, who was the last to speak, urged Opposition supporters to register as voters in their millions.
“We will deal with election laws – we promise you that – but you must all go out, in every town, village, home, church, school, bus stop every single day and not rest until everybody you meet is a registered voter to send a mass message to Jubilee that they must go home! It has to be done. It has been done elsewhere. It will be done here with your help,” he said.
“I wish to urge all Opposition supporters to discard the fears that Jubilee will steal the August elections. Yes, Jubilee will try to steal the elections. But we shall not allow it. We shall make it impossible for anyone to steal the elections. But we are also sending word to Jubilee again that the cost of stealing this election will be regrettable. Therefore, don’t try it.”
He assured the aspirants that the nominations across all the opposition parties would be free and fair.
“The commitment runs across the Opposition... We are against fraud in the General Election. We will not allow fraud in our nominations,” he said, and promised that those who lose would be given jobs in government if the alliance wins the elections.
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